Growing up, John Potter idolized Lions’ kicker Jason Hanson.
Now Potter has a chance to walk in the same shoes as his idol.
The Detroit Lions signed Potter to a two-year contract. Potter, a 2008 Grand Haven High School graduate, will have the offseason to try to win the Lions’ placekicking job.
“I was always a big Lions fan, and obviously, a big Jason Hanson fan,” said Potter, who has played for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins the past two years. “It’s great to be able to kick for the team I grew up watching, and also have the opportunity to play the same position of the guy I grew up watching as a kicker and idolizing.
“This truly is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I hope to make the most of it.”
Potter played kicker, wide receiver and defensive back in high school for the Buccaneers. He set numerous school kicking records at Western Michigan University, then was drafted out of college by the Buffalo Bills. Potter made the Bills’ regular-season roster to handle kickoff duties, but was eventually released midway through the season due to a rash of injuries on the team.
Hanson kicked for the Lions an astounding 21 seasons before retiring in April of 2013. The Lions signed veteran kicker David Akers as Hanson’s replacement, but Akers struggled at times this year, making 19-of-24 field goals.
Rookie punter Sam Martin handled most of the kickoff duties for the Lions this past season.
Potter will compete with a few others to take over the kicking duties for the 2014 season.
“I got the call a couple days ago that they wanted to sign me,” Potter said. “They’re bringing in me and another kicker, Georgio Tavecchio out of Cal, who was with Green Bay, and they might bring a couple other guys in to compete for the kicking position next year.
“Things had been pretty quiet (since being released by the Redskins), so I was very excited to get a call from the Lions, to get something situated for his offseason.”
Read more of this story in today's print edition or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.