Jan 7, 2016 8:48 PM by Ross Field
Playing NCAA Division-I football is a dream few high school players from the Northern Section get to see come true. Former Hamilton High and Butte College kicker Rigoberto Sanchez not only felt the dream, he kicked right into the bright lights, big crowds, and did so for a college in a tropical paradise. Action News Now's Ross Field filed this report.
"Five years ago I would've never thought I would be in Hawaii playing football at the Div-I level, never in my life," said Rigoberto Sanchez.
The University of Hawaii took a chance on Rigoberto Sanchez, inking him to a scholarship last summer just a few weeks prior to the start of the season. It was a risky move but one that paid off in a big way.
"It's been a crazy, crazy experience," said Sanchez.
He did more than hold down a roster spot. He shot to the top of the depth chart wherever possible.
Sanchez kicked field goals, extra points, punted and also handled kick-offs. He's one of only five players nationally responsible for every kicking duty for his team.
"I had to fight for every position like every day, every day I went out to practice I had to pretty much just compete and act like it was a game-day every time I went out there. I wasn't aware that I was going to do all three until I went out and felt confident that I was going to take all the positions and that's what I did," said Sanchez.
And he did it well.
Sanchez registered 74 punts for a 45.1-yard average, ranking ninth in the NCAA and helping him to land a spot on the Ray Guy Award watch list.
The junior also nailed 8-of-11 field goals with a long of 50. He was named U-of-H's Special Teams Player of the Year.
So, how could he possibly improve next season?
"I feel like they look for consistency in college football at the Div-I level. That's what matters at the end of the day," said Sanchez.
Therefore he continues to work on his kicking game.
Sanchez is not spending Winter Break on the beach, he's back home practicing at Butte College and making sure to never forget his roots.
"I really am truly appreciative of everybody that has helped me to get there," said Sanchez.
From a Brave to a Roadrunners to a Rainbow Warrior, Sanchez has put scouts on notice. If he can follow up his junior year with a sterling senior season, the door to his ultimate dream just might swing open.
"The show is where I want to go. NFL is the dream. I want to come out and be ready for my senior year. It's one shot, one opportunity and it's my last year to give it my all and try and turn my dream into a reality," said Sanchez.