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‘Fire your bullet’: A Q&A with Dawson County Tigers kicker Caleb Bonesteel
Caleb Bonesteel kicks off during the 42-35 victory over White County on Oct. 9. Photo by Paige Sweany of Sole Photography.

Caleb Bonesteel has been the placekicker for the Dawson County Tigers since he was a freshman. Now a senior, Bonesteel is regarded by multiple publications as one of the top high school place kickers in the state of Georgia. 

But Bonesteel’s collegiate recruiting process was halted and altered when COVID-19 struck down what high school athletes were and were not allowed to do. 

Get to know more about Caleb Bonesteel and his recruiting process here:

Are you aware of how insane of a last name Bonesteel is for a field goal kicker?

Tigers Football
Dawson County junior Caleb Bonesteel connects for a 32-yard field goal against the Jenkins Warriors on Nov. 22 in the final minutes of the game. - photo by Bob Christian

Bonesteel: “People have a lot of fun with my last name. The announcers love it.”

How long have you been playing soccer? How long have you been playing football?

“I started playing soccer when I was 4. I first tried football in 5th grade after being encouraged by Jake Cameron, Kinkade Weaver and Coach Brandon Weaver. I didn’t play in 6th or 7th grade so I could focus on soccer. I started playing again in 8th grade.”

What was the transition from soccer to football like?

“It was pretty easy, except when you are a kicker you need to do more training on your own. Soccer is more of a skill game, where kicking requires more mental toughness.”

What does calling Dawsonville home mean to you?

“I like living in a small town. I grew up with the guys I’m playing with. In 5th grade I played with most of these seniors and we went all the way to the Super Bowl together. Now we get to play under the lights with the whole town cheering us on. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

What is your favorite memory from any sport you played during your time at DCHS? 

“It’s probably between hitting the 52 yard field goal against Habersham Central my junior year and the 42 yard field goal my freshman year. I remember walking into the high school locker room my freshman year and all the upperclassmen were congratulating me. As a freshman that was a big deal.”

Now, do you consider yourself a leader on the team?

“Yes, I do. I work with all the younger kickers during practice showing them different ways to improve their skills. I’m also always hoping for a great first kick off to start the game to get team momentum going.”

With soccer and football always on your mind, what else does Caleb Bonesteel do besides kicking a ball?

“I’m taking classes at UNG, and you can also find me working in the kitchen at Freddy’s.”

What was the moment that you knew that you were good enough to play college football?

“I knew I had college potential when I attended my first Chris Sailer Kicking camp my sophomore year. I was able to compete with the other kickers there.”

What was that realization like for you?

“The realization that I could potentially play in college motivated me to work harder. I started working with a kicking coach, and a lot more practice time was put in off season.”

Tigers soccer Feb. 18
Junior Caleb Bonesteel launches a goal kick during Tuesday night’s match. - photo by Jacob Smith
Describe to me what a kicking camp might look like for you.

“It’s like any other position camp. We do warm ups, drills and competitions. I’m a little superstitious when it comes to completing at camps. I always have two chocolate sprinkled donuts from Dunkin and TruMoo chocolate milk for breakfast. I also wear the same socks to each camp.”

Describe to me what the collegiate recruiting process has been like for you. 

“Obviously the recruiting process has been different due to Covid. It’s involved a lot of virtual events, text messaging with coaches, and using film highlights. Twitter has also been super important during the process. I don’t think people realize how much coaches utilize it.”

What do you look for specifically when being recruited by colleges?

“I want a college that focuses on special teams. I want their football program to have a family culture. I’m looking at smaller schools so I can feel more at home. I’m looking for a program that has a Sports Management program. I’d like to eventually become a graduate assistant on a team and then coach at the college level.”

There is a myth that kicking is 90% mental. How do you feel about that myth? Are the statistics different for you?

“It’s definitely a mental position. Once you get in your head, it’s hard to get out. It’s all about the confidence you have in yourself and sometimes it’s difficult to find that confidence after you’ve missed a kick. It’s also about the relationship and confidence you have in your long snapper and holder.”

What is the greatest lesson you learned while being a Tiger?

“The biggest lesson I learned is probably summed up with a Coach Maxwell saying ‘Fire your bullet’  which means give 110% and always go all out.

What advice would you give to young kickers trying to play collegiate football?

“Keep practicing and be sure to do well in school.”

Final question: What is your personal prediction for the remainder of the football season?

“We have improved significantly since the start of the season. We will win the region title and make a run in the playoffs.”

Seniors Kinkade Weaver (5), Brayden Kinney (63) and Caleb Bonesteel (99) watch fellow senior Dakota Sonnichsen (1) jog out for the coin flip before the game against Flowery Branch on September 11. - photo by Jacob Smith