By Glenn Guilbeau, Gannett Louisiana
BATON ROUGE - Morlan "Mo" Isom is not your typical homecoming queen. She is as serious about becoming a kicker on the LSU football team as a kick in the face.
Isom, a star goalkeeper on the LSU soccer team from 2008-11, became the first female student-athlete to be named LSU's homecoming queen last fall. Now she wants to be LSU's first female football player. She went through a walk-on tryout with other prospective kickers Tuesday during the Tigers' spring drills.
"People's first presumption about this is that it's a media stunt or some attempt for attention and glory," Isom said in an interview with Gannett Tuesday night. "That couldn't be any farther from the truth. I feel it was a goal God placed in my heart. It's just something I want to do."
VIDEO: Campus Rivalry - Isom's leg in action
If she makes the LSU team, Isom will become the first female kicker at a major college since 2003 when Katie Hinda kicked two extra points for New Mexico against Texas State, becoming the first female to score in a major college game.
Amid these potential winds of change, it was very windy at LSU Tuesday, and Isom did not do as well as she would have liked in the field goal department.
"But I had some great kickoffs between the 5-yard line and the goal line," she said. Isom will get another chance Thursday as the walk-on tryouts will continue.
"This was really a bad day for anybody to kick because the wind was just so strong," LSU coach Les Miles said. "But obviously she's got ball skills. She's been around it."
Isom, who is six feet tall, kicked a 51-yard field goal on the LSU practice field while working on her own with LSU kickers Brad Wing and Drew Alleman last August.
"No, this is not something frivolous for her," Isom's mother, Heidi Isom, said in a telephone interview from her Atlanta area home Tuesday. "She's a serious athlete, and she's very serious about becoming a member of the football team. She has thought about this for a long time. She feels she can contribute to the team. Mo has a tremendous leg and has an ability to kick and place a kick."
Isom, who has a year of eligibility remaining in athletics at LSU according to the NCAA rule giving student-athletes five years to play four, began training as a kicker for football in January of 2011. She has always had a very strong leg. In 2008, she became the first LSU goalkeeper in history to score a goal when she boomed a soaring boot in from 90 yards away on a free kick against Brigham Young. The play made ESPN's top 10 plays.
"No, I would have no reservations playing her," Miles said. "If she gave us an opportunity and an advantage, and I mean add an advantage, then certainly we would consider that. The good thing about it is she's an athlete. She's been through team before. She understands the commitment. I would have much less reservation with her than I would any number of other people that frankly didn't know what they were getting into. But the real interesting thing is it has to be an advantage obtained."
Miles said he will likely not make any final decisions about adding walk-on kickers until August when preseason practices begin. LSU has two kickers and a punter on scholarship.
"I don't know if there's any time table on that," he said. "It's probably safe to say there won't be any of those people joining the team this spring. It really would depend on how it all came out. If there was an exceptional kicker, no matter who it was, we would see it and certainly make that opportunity available."
Isom, 22, has likely been through more than most of Miles' players, who finished 13-1 last season after losing the BCS national championship game. In 2009 when she was a sophomore, her father John committed suicide. After that, she suffered a broken neck and other injuries in a car accident.
"That's another motivation for me," she said. "I want to prove there are no limits on people. We can all do it. After all the adversity I've faced, I want to do more. I want to show how people can overcome problems."
Isom, who said she plans on trying out again in August, particularly wants to play football because that's what her late father did at Carson-Newman College.
"I grew up in a football culture," she said. "It would mean so much to my heart to suit up on a Saturday night like my dad did in college."