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Boston College kicker to make his football debut
BOSTON -- Steve Aponavicius remembers with pride his role in last year's Boston College football highlights video: He was in the stands, with his face painted, cheering on the team.
On Thursday night, the left-footed walk-on will sub for suspended placekicker Ryan Ohliger against No. 22 Virginia Tech. It's not just Aponavicius' Boston College debut; it will be the first time he's played in a football game.
"It's a good way to start: against Virginia Tech on national TV," he said with a laugh before practice Tuesday. "I was happy with an opportunity just to make the team."
Aponavicius -- a Lithuanian name pronounced AH'-pah-nah-VIH'-chis -- chose soccer over football at Easton (Pa.) High, playing defender with a specialty in long goal kicks. He also played baseball, and cheered on the football team as the founder of an informal fan club he dubbed "Red Rover Nation."
Aponavicius broke out the face paint again when he got to Boston College, but he found that he missed being on a team. So, on the first day of classes as a freshman last year, he grabbed a football and headed down to Alumni Stadium to find out for himself if he had any placekicking prowess.
"I thought if anyone saw me they wouldn't say anything good," he said. "I was thinking, 'Wow, they are really good. And I am not."'
A member of the coaching staff happened by and approached him.
"I thought he was kicking me off the field," Aponavicius said. "He said, 'We're kind of low on kickers right now. We could use another one.'
"I ran back to my room faster than I've ever run before."
Aponavicius e-mailed the special teams coach, and soon he was being fitted for shoulder pads. One problem: He didn't know how to put them on.
"I had to ask everyone how to do it," he acknowledged.
Aponavicius was limited to cheering again last year, suiting up for a handful of games but never playing. He seemed destined to stay in that role until Ohliger got tangled in a fight outside a Boston bar last weekend, apparently with fellow students heckling him for his struggles. He was later suspended by Coach Tom O'Brien.