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Personal Best Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach 2007 - Mickey Groody

Pompano Beach's Mickey Groody, an 18-year-old senior at St. Thomas Aquinas High School, has helped his football team reach the Division 5-A State Championships for three years running. This year, the star punter, who averages an NFL-worthy 42.3 yards per kick (about what Minnesota Vikings kicker Chris Kluwe, a longtime pro, averaged last year), is headed off to college -- but not far off. A self-described "hometown guy" with close family ties (he's a big brother to four younger siblings), he'll join legendary coach Howard Schnellenberger and the FAU Owls in the fall.

High school football is a big scene here, isn't it?

Yeah, we'll have 2,000, 3,000 people at a game. Come playoff time, the estimate is 10,000. Everyone goes to the games, even away games. When we went to the state championships, we packed 32 charter buses.

Punter is a high-pressure job What's the best thing about it?

Well, a quarterback can throw an incomplete pass, but he can redeem himself. For me, it's a one-shot deal. I don't get a re-do. The best thing is, though, I come out on fourth down, hearing all the groans and moans from the crowd because the offense didn't get the first down. But I can get the momentum going back toward us.

Tell us about this year's FAU team.

Our goal is to step-by-step get to the National Championship -- and I have a strong feeling that we will. The coach has done it with Miami, and he did the same thing with Louisville.

How important are good grades in all this?

Grades are important, especially to my family. I have to keep above a 3.3 GPA so I'm not grounded.

Any exotic locales you want to go to?

I always wanted to go to Hawaii. I like the whole Hawaiian theme ? you know, sitting on the beach drinking out of a coconut. I'd love to surf at one of those places where all the famous guys surf.

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