November 19, 2018 Currently: 63° | Complete forecast

UNLV Hall of Fame inductee walked onto football team

Image

Courtesy UNLV

Joe Kristosik led the nation with an average of 46.2 yards per punt in 1998, the second-highest in NCAA history at that time for a punter with at least 75 career attempts. Following the season, he was named the first consensus All-American in school history.

UNLV Athletic Hall of Fame 2008 inductees

  • Tim Blenkiron, tennis (1994-1997)
  • Kim Rondina, softball (1994-1997)
  • Luke Smith, tennis (1994-1997)
  • Marianne Vallin, tennis (1994-1997)
  • 1998 men's golf team - won national title
  • 1995 women's softball team — advanced to College World Series
  • Al McDaniels, track coach (1975-1992)

When Joe Kristosik graduated from Bishop Gorman in 1992, he knew his chances of playing college football were slim.

The punter had drawn interest from just one school, Victorville Junior College, which didn't even offer him a scholarship.

Facing the possibility that his football career was over, Kristosik entered the work force after high school. He first worked as a door-to-door salesman for automotive repair books and then as a valet.

Nearly two years after his last football game at Gorman, Kristosik saw a newspaper ad looking for walk-ons to try out for UNLV's football team. It was an opportunity he knew he couldn't pass up.

"I think part of the reason I was never offered a scholarship after high school was because my grades weren't as good as they should have been," Kristosik said. "After taking two years off, I was a little more mature when I decided to try and walk on. I was able to go through a lot of life experiences that helped me prepare myself for the demands of football."

Kristosik, a Centennial Hills resident, turned out to be one the best punters in school history. He will be one of six individuals and two teams Sept. 19 inducted into UNLV's Athletic Hall of Fame.

The evening will cap a remarkable journey from door-to-door salesman to one of the top athletes in the university's history.

"To be able to tell my son I'm included in the Hall of Fame with a lot of the people grew up watching play at UNLV is great," he said.

After trying out, Kristosik was invited to walk on. He did and redshirted as a freshman in 1994. He then started for the Rebels for four straight seasons from 1995 to '98.

As a sophomore, he was awarded a scholarship. Then as a senior, he enjoyed one of the best seasons for a punter in college football history.

In 1998, Kristosik led the nation with an average of 46.2 yards per punt, the second-highest in NCAA history at that time for a punter with at least 75 career attempts. Following the season, he was named the first consensus All-American in school history.

For his unprecedented success at the school, Kristosik on Sept. 19 will be inducted into the UNLV Athletic Hall of Fame during a ceremony on campus. The following day, he will be honored during UNLV's football game with Iowa State.

Kristosik lives in Centennial Hills with his wife, Natalie, and 3-year-old son, Mason. He works at the Orleans Casino.

Though he didn't reach the NFL, Kristosik said becoming his school's first consensus All-American was satisfying since he remembers a time when no college football team wanted him.

"I think for me to experience it from being a walk-on and having those struggles to becoming an All-American, I was able to appreciate it more," he said. "I thoroughly enjoyed playing for UNLV. I enjoyed getting a chance to travel to places I didn't think I'd ever get a chance to travel to."

Christopher Drexel can be reached at 990-8929 or [email protected].

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