A&M had a solid group of signees play in this year’s Under Armour All-American game. Kohl Stewart, Sebastian LaRue, Laquvionte Gonzalez, Joas Aguilar and Noel Ellis were all UA All-Americans. But on the day after National Signing Day, they picked up one more.
Tripucka said new A&M's special teams coordinator Jeff Banks called him before he even got to College Station.
Shane Tripucka, a punter from Allen, accepted A&M’s offer to be a preferred walk-on this fall in College Station. Choosing the Aggies over preferred walk-on status from Texas, Texas Tech and Boston College. Last night, GigEm247’s Taylor Hamm caught up with Tripucka to talk about the process that brought him to Aggieland.
“It started this summer, I went to their kicking camp and I had been going back and forth with Coach Polian. We met at the camp and I did pretty well. We just kept up communication for a while and they were pretty interested and they needed a punter,” he said.
“When Coach Polian left to go to Nevada, Coach Banks came in. He actually called me before he even got to A&M. He was still in Virginia packing up his house. He was at El Paso and then he was in Virginia for nine days and then got the job at A&M so he was actually calling me before he even got to A&M.”
He added, “It’s just, the coaches were great. He called me and he was very interested. We kept in touch throughout the season and all that. Woke up this morning and something about today was good so I called them up today and they were very excited and glad to hear that I was committing to A&M.”
Tripucka has some impressive stats from Allen. He averaged 40 yards a kick in his two seasons as the starting punter and didn’t give up a single return yard.
“I had a few preferred walk-on offers from other schools to, but something about A&M, I just felt more comfortable about it,” he said. “The coaches, the atmosphere of the school, the football program. The coaches at A&M, something about them stuck with me.”
“Coach Banks is awesome because he’s not just a special teams coach that just got stuck with the job that doesn’t care about the specialists. He kind of came from my same spot, he was a punter going into college so he knows all the technical parts of it and he really cares about what he does. It was just a lot of factors with A&M that I liked that led me to my decision.”
Getting a scholarship offer is tough for specialists, but Tripucka said the A&M coaches told him that he has a chance to earn one as an Aggie.
“They said if I came in the first year and if I win the job I’d be on scholarship,” he said.
The Aggies have a punter on campus, but Drew Kaser has yet to take a meaningful punt in his two years at A&M and has been plagued by inconsistency. If nothing else, the addition of Tripucka should bring some competition to the position this spring following the departure of Ryan Epperson.
On a similar note, he’s not the only specialist the Aggies have brought on in the last week either. Tripucka’s fellow Metroplex native, kicker Cody Wicker of Dallas Jesuit, will also be a preferred walk-on in Aggieland. And the two have a connection to one of the best kickers in Aggie history.
“Cody and I have known each other for about a year,” he said. “We actually met at a camp because we have the same kicking coach. He’s a great kicker, he works hard, he’s great at what he does. We just got to know each other through our coach. He also coached Randy Bullock. We’ve really become close friends.”
Last year, there were three Allen products on A&M’s team, and though two of them have moved on, he and Cedric Ogbuehi will both be on the team next year. The Aggies also have their eyes on another young Allen product, 2015 quarterback Kyle Murray.
“He came in, he just turned 15, he was the youngest guy on the team, but he took us to a whole new level,” he said. “He just took over and did what he had to do to get us to the State Championship. He’ll continue to get better and better and better, and I think he’ll be ridiculous by his senior year and going into college.”