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Tavecchio excited for his second chance

Apr. 12, 2013
 

Giorgio Tavecchio will be the first to admit he was star struck. After all, he was kicking against David Akers.

The day the former University of California kicker walked in the door as training-camp competition for 15th-year veteran last summer, the two immediately formed a bond.

Like Tavecchio, Akers was left-footed and came into the league as an undrafted free agent without much acclaim.

Each day, Tavecchio would pick the veteranís brain for another morsel of insight and not once did Akers decline the request, even going as far to buy the rookie a cappuccino every now and then.

With Akers coming off a Pro Bowl season, the camp competition went off as youíd expect. Tavecchio was cut after making his only preseason field goal, but he never forgot the lessons he learned in his first professional camp.

ďHe was very open to sharing his experiences, which again someone in his position by no means had to do,Ē Tavecchio said. ďNot only did he answer all my questions, but he was very open in just showing me things. It was almost just osmosis just being around him for an extended period of time being able to absorb a lot, a lot.Ē

Now, itís take two for Tavecchio, who signed with the Green Bay Packers two weeks ago as camp competition for Mason Crosby. Heís the first challenger for the teamís kicking job since Crosby bested Dave Rayner during his rookie season in 2007.

Since receiving his release from the 49ers, Tavecchio had some Arena Football tryouts, but mostly spent his time working as a student-athlete tutor on the campus of California-Berkeley until getting an e-mail for a workout with the Green Bay Packers last month.

He flew to Green Bay and won a contract over two others he was trying out with. Heíll return this weekend for the start of the Packersí offseason conditioning program on Monday.

Itís a new home for Tavecchio, but the travel is nothing new. While he and his family have lived in Moraga, Calif., since 2005, he moved frequently as a child because of his motherís job, beginning in his birthplace in Milan, Italy, before stays in Connecticut, Rome, Washington D.C. and finally California.

Now, the Packers want to see if the kid who grew up a rabid soccer fan before accepting a walk-on offer to kick at California can push Crosby, whose 63.6-percent accuracy on field-goal attempts last season was last in the NFL.

Earlier this offseason, Akers lost his job with the 49ers after making only 69.0 percent of his kicks, which was second-worst to Crosby last season.

ďI never really met him but I highly respect him,Ē said Tavecchio of Crosby. ďI know heís one of the well-respected veterans. Heís had a great career and Iím excited to be able to kick with him. Iím sure I can learn a lot and Iím looking forward to meeting a bunch of people and heís definitely one of them.Ē

Tavecchio made 48-of-64 field goals during his college career (75 percent) with 112 makes on 120 extra-point attempts, but he's only been kicking consistently since his senior year of high school.

When it came time for college, he had dueling walk-on offers from California in football and UC-Davis in soccer. After discussing it with his parents, he decided to give football a shot.

Now, he hope he's on the verge of making a career out of it using the experience of his first NFL camp to motivate him.

"It almost seemed like it was another step. It was being released, but I still didnít feel any remorse," Tavecchio said. "I still had a lot of steam. I felt like Iím going to keep going full steam ahead and keep at it at least one more time while I was still young, I guess. As much of a tough experience being released is, especially for a kicker, itís part of the process.

"What I wanted to do is take the lessons I have learned in the summer both technically, and again like I said before, the professional side of it and keep moving forward and giving it my best. I canít tell you how fortunate I feel to keep moving forward with this dream with the Packers.Ē

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