Former NFL kicker gives free lessons to high schoolers in Ariz. backyard

Both kickers will spend the next four years competing for the job at Arizona State (Ruiz received a scholarship, Christian Zendejas is a walk-on).

Luis Zendejas doesn’t dare try to kick anymore for fear of tearing something. But his passion to teach is deep. Luis was one of the greatest college kickers between 1981 and ’84 at ASU. He made a then-school record 28 field goals in 1983.

He went on to kick in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles. He was also was part of the early Rattlers in the AFL, the only kicker in Rattlers history to drop-kick extra points for two points.

Now, Zendejas works for the Arizona Cardinals as senior director of community relations and gives free kicking clinics out of his backyard.

He had about 10 kickers come through in the early evening on a day when it reached 119 degrees in the Valley.

“It’s nice to do it here,” Zendejas said. “We don’t have to jump fences and get kicked out of high schools. Just come in here and enjoy kicking.”

There are flood lights surrounding the field and speakers that blast ’70s music. A huge gray barrel on wheels is filled with footballs, ranging from all levels, high school, college, NFL, AFL.

Kids gather them, set up self-hold tees from various spots that are marked off at 30, 40, 50 and 60 yards.

Beyond the posts is a net to stop balls. But if the balls go beyond that and over the wall, they end up in a canal. Zendejas keeps a net to fish them out.

When he was looking for a place with a yard big enough to teach kicking nine years ago, he kept driving by a big lot about three miles from his home.

“I’d put up a motor home if I had to,” he said. “I’ll put my field in first, and my house second.”

Zendejas bought the vacant house in 2008, and, learning from watching Cardinals groundskeepers mow the field, he built his dreamland. He crafted the yard to…

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