The Washington Times - August 24, 2012, 09:21AM

ANNAPOLIS – Nick Sloan entered the month with a chance to win Navy’s placekicking job.

So did a lot of other guys.

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“In the beginning it was a little discouraging, seeing six other kickers,” Sloan said Thursday. “It was like ‘Whoa.’ You just come out and [try to] make every kick. That’s all you can do.”

He did it better than anyone else in the Midshipmen’s preseason camp, earning the starting nod for Navy’s Sept. 1 opener against Notre Dame in Dublin, Ireland.

Fellow plebe Austin Grebe will also travel for the opener. Less than two weeks ago, Sloan was one of six kickers listed as co-starters.

That essentially meant Navy made it through about 10 days of practice without a clue who would actually handle the kicking duties. Some days, a few guys would stand out. On others, virtually none performed well.

But the most consistent all along was Sloan, who was the academy prep school’s primary kicker last season. He rarely struggled with distance during Navy’s end-of-practice kicking competitions, and even a fair number of his misses were close to the uprights.

“He came from the back of the pack,” coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “We had some front-runners, but he’s just kind of been steady, steady, steady. He kicked really well today. I just wanted to clear his mind: ‘You are our kicker. You have two weeks to get ready.’”

Niumatalolo didn’t make a direct statement to Sloan about the job until after Wednesday’s practice. He then informed Grebe he would be making the trip to Ireland before reassuring Sloan that he would be the starter.

“He hinted a little bit toward the end of camp,” Sloan said. “I read some articles. He never said anything directly to me. I just have to do my job and come in and make my kicks. That’s all I can do.”

And so what once was a seven-man competition – arguably the most scrutinized position battle this year for the Mids – is now down to one.

Upon reflection, Sloan appears likely to take the same philosophy that won him the job into his freshman season.

“Every day was like a rollercoaster,” Sloan said. “All I can control is what happens between me and the ball and the post. I just have to come out and work hard and make every kick that I can. That’s all I can do. It’s not like it’s a race to see who finishes first. It’s whoever makes the kick. That’s what it comes down to, whether it looks pretty or not. A made kick is a made kick.

Patrick Stevens