From a pure mental perspective, no position in football is more delicate than that of a kicker or punter. Sure, it may not require the typical grunt work that linemen, linebackers, or skill position players go through. But the amount of pressure on a kicker or punter to be perfect is rivaled only by that of the starting quarterback. It's the reason why after the starting QB, it is the highest recipient of scornful comments in Message Board Land (which reminds me, let's just go ahead and get the Ace Ventura references out of our system: DIE DAN, LACES OUT, THAT'S NOT SNOWFLAKE, FINKLE IS EINHORN, EINHORN IS FINKLE, I HAVE..EXORCIIIISED THE DEMONS).
Penn State's most recently departed kicker, Collin Wagner, was the recipient of such scorn back in 2009 when he proved to be a rather shaky and inconsistent kicker following in the footsteps of four-year starter (and all-time Big Ten scoring leader) Kevin Kelly. Wagner did, however, redeem himself by going a perfect 4-for-4 on field goals in the 2010 Capital One Bowl on a field that was likely used for mud wrestling the night before. That performance set the tone for a solid 2010 season overall which began with Wagner successfully nailing all three of his field goal attempts from 40+ yards out in the season opener against Youngstown State (which were sorely needed while Rob Bolden tried to discover his groove).
Wagner's departure, along with last year's punting/kickoff extraordinaire Anthony Fera being in JoePa's dreaded doghouse, has left gaping holes in the kicking game that are in dire need of major patch-up work. And who will help fill in the holes? Find out, after the jump...
Sam Ficken - Freshman - Kicker
2010 (high school) Stats:
- 10-for-17 on Field Goals (long of 52 yards)
- A perfect 38-of-38 on Extra Points
- 1,001 yards punting (long of 53 yards)
- 38.1 punting yard average
- Longest punt: 50 yards
Would Be Starting If He Weren't In JoePa's Doghouse
Anthony Fera - Redshirt Sophomore - Kicker/Punter
- 41.4 punting yard average
- Longest punt: 74 yards
- 9 punts of 50+ yards
- 19 touchbacks on 49 kickoffs
If This Had Been an Actual Emergency, The Sound You Just Heard Would Have Been Followed by This Guy Handling Kicking Duties
Evan Lewis - Redshirt Junior - Kicker/Wide Receiver
- Saw action in the Youngstown State and Kent State games at receiver
- Portrayed Denard Robinson during practice the week of the Michigan game, dreadlocks included. It worked.