PHILIPSBURG — Placekicking runs in the Boumerhi family.
So it should be no surprise that Philipsburg-Osceola senior Aaron Boumerhi is following older brothers Alex and Nick into the collegiate level, committing to Temple University over the weekend as a preferred walk-on.
Alex played at Lock Haven, while Nick is currently on the roster at Penn State, and they certainly had a hand in putting Aaron on the path to kicking.
“They both said, ‘you have a strong leg from soccer, we’ve seen you kick, why don’t you give it a try?,’” Boumerhi said.
Aaron Boumerhi started his football career as a high school sophomore, but was behind brother Nick on the depth chart, and that, plus an injury, limited his opportunities.
But he made the most of the offseason, going to a Kohl’s kicking camp the winter after his sophomore season where he was given a four-star ranking.
He followed that up with another camp in the spring where his dream of kicking at a Division I school was born.
“I knew I had potential and that spring I went to a camp in New Jersey and kicked real well and ended up getting ranked 19th in the country,” Boumerhi said. “I started thinking then that this was something I could do in college at a pretty high level, so I was pretty excited about that.”
He followed that up with another Kohl’s kicking camp in Wisconsin that summer and was ranked ninth in the country after that.
He was excited for his junior season in high school, but the Mounties offense didn’t give him many opportunities for field goals or extra points and he didn’t receive much interest from colleges.
“Not many coaches come to small towns like this to scout, especially a kicker,” Boumerhi said. “As a kicker, it’s a hard life. You don’t get much love.”
He went to a another camp in Florida after his junior year and received a five-star ranking and spent a lot of time the following summer emailing schools and sending film and doing whatever he could to get on the radar.
During the spring of his junior year and the summer Boumerhi went to a number of college camps including Ole Miss, Tennessee, Duke, Indiana, Purdue, Minnesota, Penn State, Penn, Cornell, Virginia and Alabama.
“If I was invited or the coaches showed some interest, I was there,” he said.
Boumerhi was even named to the All-Saban Team for being a standout performer at the Alabama camp.
“I won a number of awards at these camps,” he said. “I thought, ‘maybe it won’t happen this summer, but these coaches will remember me in the fall when i send then my film.’”
Only Minnesota showed interest during the fall of his senior season, but that fell through, when head coach Jerry Kill stepped down due to health reasons.
“I started talking to them in February of my junior year,” Boumerhi said. “I didn’t have much contact with many other schools. Occasionally one would email me back but then would stop.
“I went to Minnesota for a game, but then they had a coaching change and the guy who I was talking to went to a different school and that went down the drain.”
Northwestern entered the picture and had Boumerhi retake his SATs, telling him they would like to see an increase of 50 points in his score. He did and scored a 1250, which was 80 points higher than his first try.
“I was pumped about that, but then they stopped talking to me out of nowhere. It was stressful.”
An offer from Sacred Heart came in at the end of his senior football season, but Boumerhi wanted more.
“I just wasn’t very interested,” he said. “They’re a small school and I really didn’t think about it much.”
Later that winter, Boumerhi was contacted by Temple.
“I was excited, but things were slow at first and I din’t think much of it,” he said. “I actually got some attention from Rutgers in the meantime.”
Boumerhi went for two visits, but decided not to pursue the Scarlet Knights due to finances.
“It wasn’t guaranteed that I’d be going for camp,” Boumerhi said. “And then, especially with out-of-state tuition, I decided it wasn’t the best fit for me.”
There were several Division 1AA and Division II schools in the picture, but Boumerhi never really gave them serious consideration.
That included Bloomsburg, which had a $7000 offer on the table.
“They have cheap tuition and they’re a very good school,” Boumerhi said. “But my dream is dead set on going D-I.
“My dream has always been to go D-I. I know my potential. I was ranked on ESPN around 23. I definitely felt I was good enough and I wasn’t going to sell myself short of my dream.”
So Boumerhi took two visits to Temple and really liked what he saw.
“For them not being a Power 5 conference, they have really nice facilities,” he said. “I really like the campus and I love (head) coach (Matt) Rhule. It’s like a family there. You can tell they really care for their players.
“I thought, ‘this is definitely something I want.’”
So Boumerhi called Temple on Friday evening and told them he was in, and then he and his mother announced it on Twitter and Facebook.
“This is my dream. This is everything I’ve been waiting for,” Boumerhi said. “Ever since Friday, I’ve just been the happiest man alive.”
Boumerhi said he could have the opportunity to handle kickoffs right from the get-go.
“They really want me right away for kickoffs,” he said. “They’ve seen my film and heard what people have said about me and they want me for kickoffs.”
But unseating incumbent placekicker Austin Jones, who is entering his junior year, is likely to be a tall order.
“He’s a two-year starter and he’s really good,” Boumerhi said. “But I think potentially after his last two years I could start placekicking or maybe even punting and maybe earn a scholarship.
“It’s a crazy world in college football. You never know what might happen. I’m just excited to have the opportunity.”
And so several months of stress finally came to an end for Boumerhi in the best way possible — a realization of a dream he has worked very hard for since his sophomore year.
“It was a stressful time,” he said. “It wasn’t the path that most people take, but I’m not going to complain. I reached my dream.”
So with his Division I goal met, is Boumerhi now ready to shoot for the stars and dream about kicking in the NFL?
“I obviously want to get my degree and set myself up in that aspect,” he said. “Football is not something that will always be there. I could get hurt, something could happen, so I just want to get my degree first and do my best in college and do everything I can to help my team.
“But if the NFL comes calling ... that is definitely a dream. Temple has a kicker (Brandon McManus) in the NFL and he’s one of the best in the league right now.”
If all goes well, Boumerhi might get a chance to strut his stuff close to home when Temple visits Penn State on Sept. 17.
“I can’t wait,” Boumerhi said.