Name: Yahia Aly
School: Florida A&M
Q: What goals did you set and/or accomplish in your final collegiate season?
During my final season at Florida A&M University, I wanted to make sure that I set individual and team goals. I strongly believed that my leadership skills would add a lot of needed value to the team—which is why I strived to become a team captain. I was able to meet that goal and was designated as one of the leaders on the team.
The greatest amount of growth comes through much discomfort. Therefore, I knew that a personal goal of mine was to attempt something I had never tried before, a 50+ yard field goal. It had always been in the back of my mind, but it was something I had never focused on. Through much dedication and training, I not only attempted 50+ yard field goals, but I made two throughout the season with the longest being 52 yards.
I set goals for my diet and physique because I understand how important that is to a professional football career. I am proud to say that this season has been the fittest I have ever been. My food consumption consisted of a lean and healthy diet. Also, I set this goal because I believe it expanded beyond physique and fitness. Much like kicking, healthy food consumption and exercise are a huge mental battle. I truly believe that by sticking to these health goals, I was able to develop and take my mental ability to the next level.
Q: What would your coaches and teammates say about the type of player you are?
I believe that my coaches and teammates would describe me as a hardworking, humble young man. They would say that I am the type of person who wants to see others succeed but also works hard to get what he wants. They would say that I use adversity to my advantage, and to challenge me to reach new heights without ever giving up. Most importantly, my coaches and teammates would confirm my ability to perform. This trust is what allowed them to believe in me and choose me as the starting kicker at Florida A&M University.
Q: When you are studying film, what do you focus on to improve your game?
When studying film, I group my analysis within two different buckets. The first bucket becomes filled with things I did correctly during that session. The second becomes filled with all of the things I think need to be improved. This allows me to play to my strengths in times of need and work on my weaknesses during training. For example, let’s say that while I’m watching my film, I realized that I took a lazy swing and my foot ended up outside of my frame. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; I just know that I can’t make this a habit because it will eventually become problematic. However, I also realized at the same time that I kept my head down which I know is a strong trait of mine, this assures me that this is a healthy habit that I must not lose touch of. Due to the immense need for attention to detail that kicking requires, I have tried to build a mental model that factors in the very important details of an adequate kick. I go through the mental checklist of assessing things such as plant foot, leg speed, contact point, head positioning, and timing, and finally speed and fluidity with the holder.
Q: What separates you from the other pro prospects at your position?
My ability to prosper when all odds are against is what separates me from other prospects. My college career has been a mental and physical battle filled with much hardship and factors out of my control. I fought for over a year to earn my spot on a football team that already had three kickers lined up. Because I had only played one year in high school, surely the coaches were hesitant to add a player with such a lack of statistics. However, I quickly performed in training and earned a starting position. All in my first season, I broke our school’s record in the number of field goals scored (6 in one game), hit two game-winning field goals, and performed well enough to earn the special teams Player of The Week award back to back.
I truly believe that kicking is 90% mental. A majority of the kickers in the league right now have small amounts of exposure and aren’t very well known. Yet, one finds these kickers being the most successful long term when compared to kickers that have been the best coming out of college. My first proper season kicking was my first year of college. I had many successes, but I also made mistakes and missed kicks. Ultimately, my successes and failures have made me the kicker I am today.
Q: What is your offseason plan to train and prepare for professional opportunities?
Currently, I am in Buffalo, New York training with Adam Tanalski, one of the best kicking coaches in the business. Adam is the founder of Hammer Kicking Academy and has been pivotal to the success of many professional kickers. Over the next seven weeks, I will be in Buffalo with Adam kicking three days a week, weight training twice a week, and working on the mental aspect of kicking daily. The purpose of this training camp is to serve as physical and mental preparation for Coach Zauner’s combine, known to be one of the most reputable kicking combines.
Q: What kind of strengths and abilities will you bring to a team that will stand out both on and off the field?
My character is the most important strength I possess. It is molded of honesty, perseverance, communication, teamwork, and most importantly accountability. All of these skills serve as the glue that keeps me motivated to work hard and excel. Similar to the traits I possess, these are all important aspects seen within a successful team. I will bring honest communication to acknowledge my teammates’ successes and to constructively criticize their faults. Each day, I will persevere through the trials we face together as a team. I will make sure to always trust my teammates, coaches, and trainers. Most importantly, I will hold myself and my teammates accountable for making sure that every repetition that takes place is done to the best of our ability.
Q: What is your final pitch to the NFL or any other pro leagues?
I am a highly coachable player who is continuously looking to learn and grow. I would make an asset to your team because I will serve as a leader on and off the field. I will execute my kicks at the highest level possible and will represent your organization in an extremely positive light. I am an athlete who is ready to accomplish great things with a family of other athletes.