Slemp, who kicked field goals, extra points and kicked off for the Purple Hurricanes, signed a scholarship to play with the Colonels in a Wednesday ceremony at the school.
Slemp said he likes the fit because of the emphasis Eastern Kentucky head coach Dean Hood places on life as well as the sport.
“They came out of nowhere and said they were interested in me,” Slemp said. “Their coach gave a different recruiting speed, with more emphasis on religion, and I knew right then that’s where I was meant to be.”
Slemp, who started at about age 5 as a soccer player, said he became interested in football as a seventh grader.
“I kicked with Marc Nolan and when he found I could hit a 45-yard field goal, he got me going,” Slemp recalled.
He noted Nolan is a former kicker with the Philadelphia Eagles and has worked with a lot of kickers.
Slemp decided to try both sports as a ninth grader at Cartersville and found himself kicking for the Canes against Cedartown that first year.
His senior year Slemp hit 58 of 59 extra point attempts. He hit 8 of 9 field goal attempts.
“Football is different compared with soccer,” he said. “It’s on a bigger stage.”
He also had a friend on the football and soccer teams those first two years — former Cane kicker Collin Barber, who now handles those duties for the University of Georgia.
Slemp said he was recruited as a sophomore and junior and then went to two professional kicking camps as a senior. At the kicking camps, players shoot for accurrency and distance.
He said after the camps, he got a call from Eastern Kentucky.
“They said they were looking at me and four others,” the kicker said. “I sent them film of myself. They called the next night and offered.”
He said Eastern Kentucky was interested because of the hang time of his kicks.
“At that camp, my hangtime was 4.2 and I had 100 percent of the field goal tries, including a 50-yarder from the right-side hash mark and a 50-yarder from the left,” he said.
Cartersville coach Frank Barden said Slemp is another in a long line of good football kickers from Cartersville.
“I can’t say enough about what he did in the four years he has kicked with us,” Barden said. “There have been so many games where a field goal or a kick was so important to winning the game. It’s been pretty nice to know that those PATs were almost automatic.”
He recalled Cartersville’s 24-23 defeat of Blessed Trinity during their state playoff run last fall. “If we don’t get all those extra points, it’s a different ballgame,” Barden said.
The coach said Slemp had a big impact on the games Cartersville played last fall even when he wasn’t scoring.
“He really worked on his kicking so he could put the ball in the end zone,” Barden said. “When you make your opponents have to start their drives from their own 20, it eliminates a lot of big plays.”
Barden said Slemp’s impact also was on other players.
“He’s just a great kid and is very reflective of the senior class of leaders we had. He’s a strong young man and has great character. Like so many of those seniors, he provided leadership off the chart for us.”
Barden said Slemp is going to a good college.
“Dean Hood is a good friend,” he said. “We had Chris Harris, a Cartersville graduate, who played up there. Dean has just a great program and is a great man to work for.”
He said Slemp kicked for him and came as close as possible to be considered an automatic extra point after the team scored touchdowns.
Eastern Kentucky is in Richmond, Ky., and plays in the Ohio Valley Conference. Among its Division I FCS foes are Jacksonville (Ala.) State University, Murray State and Austin Peay.
Cartersville coach Kyle Tucker, who handles the team’s kickers, said Slemp “was always so talented. About the only coaching I did with him was make sure he didn’t kick too much and hurt his leg.”
He said Slemp has done an exceptional job for Cartersville.
“His kickoffs have a hang time of 4.6 to 4.8 seconds, which is collegiate good,” Tucker said.
“He’s been our kicker since 2010,” Tucker said. “On extra points he’s been automatic.”
He said Slemp has made some big time kicks for Cartersville.
“He made 16 field goals in three years for us, including two 47-yarders in one game,” Tucker said.
Tucker, who kicked for Cartersville himself in the 1990s as well as at Clemson University, said Slemp is likely “one of the best ever if not the best ever at the school.”