COLUMBIA — Football for life, diving for the week.
There's no doubt that football plays a major role in former Tigers place-kicker Jeff Wolfert's life, but this week he'll trade the field for the pool.
Wolfert has been preparing for the Big 12 swimming and diving conference meet, which begins today and runs through Saturday at the MU Student Recreation Complex.
While preparing for the meet, Wolfert said the transition from footballto diving has been anything but easy.
“My body is different now,” explains Wolfert, “and that has been the most difficult.”
Wolfert began diving with the Tigers in 2004, but left the program shortly after and walked onto the Tiger football team during the 2006 season. Although many had their doubts, Wolfert surprised everyone with his performance on the field, earning the 2006 Team Walk-On Player of the Year Award.
“We were surprised when he talked to us (about kicking),” recalls head swimming coach Brian Hoffer. “We didn’t understand at first.”
Hoffer said he understands now. In fact, he and his team were pleased with Wolfert’s decision to return for the 2009 conference meet.
“I’m excited because he started with us,” Hoffer said.
Hoffer said the main goal for the men’s team this year is to beat Texas A&M, who beat theTigers by 3 points last year. Not only that, but Hoffer said hehopes several individuals will be able to qualify for the NCAA championships in March.
But, Wolfert will not be among those individuals. In fact, even if Wolfert receives an NCAA-qualifying score, he will not move on to the championships.
After this week's meet, Wolfert will be signing with a football agent. After not being invited to the 2009 combine in Indianapolis, Wolfert said he feels this is the best way to further his career in football.
So, though Wolfert’s diving career only lasts a little while longer, he said it was actually quite good for him.
“I think diving is good to get my mind off of it (football),” said Wolfert, “It keeps me mentally sharp.”
Wolfert said his mind isn't on football this week, though. Instead he's focused on his short-term goal: to help his teammates this week at the Big 12 conference meet and help lead the team to a victory over Texas A&M.
Wolfert’s next step, as far as football, is to attend Mizzou’s Pro Day, which takes place the first Thursday in March on Faurot Field. After that, Wolfert and his agent will have a better idea of where he stands in this year's NFL draft April 24-25.
“I’m really anxious about the draft,” said Wolfert. “And I’m really looking forward to advancing my career in football.”
Some professional teams have shown interest in him already.The Chicago Bears special teams coachwill be coming to watch his workout Friday morning,and he has a workout scheduled with the special teams coach from the Kansas City Chiefs April 10.
"My goal is to be playing next season," Wolfert said, "I want to be on the roster."