I look at (former Florida State kicker) Roberto Aguayo video a lot. Then (Baltimore Ravens kicker) Justin Tucker highlights. I keep up with the rookies in the NFL—Chad Ryland of the (New England) Patriots and Jake Moody of the (San Francisco) 49ers. I’ll watch my own game film because I love seeing the view of kicks from behind. But I don’t watch that much of myself because I have every kick memorized. If I’m sitting down at lunch, I think back to every kick that day and what I can do to make each one better. It’s like a constant obsession that gets worse over time.
It’s the only job on the field that’s not subjective. Justin Tucker hit a game-winner and he said to his teammates, “You guys are the paragraph, and the specialists are just the commas and periods.” I thought that was great. That’s so real. We can end sentences, and we also can begin them. We don’t do a lot, but our jobs do carry weight--so there’s power in that.
Preparation during the week is 99% mental. I remember the week of the Georgia Tech game last year I was awful Tuesday and Wednesday--and then Saturday I was four for four. I start Sunday night by deleting all my social media. Monday is a decompression day. Monday night, I start preparing—this is what I learned from the last game. Then Tuesdays and Wednesdays are workdays. I do my field goals at the beginning of practices and do kickoffs on Wednesdays. By Thursday afternoon I go into game-day mode—I’m in my turtle shell for the rest of Thursday and Friday. Then on Saturday you get off the bus, kind of turn the lights on and let everything go free. Every game is its own season. Kicking is based on, “What did you do today?” No one cares about last week. I have the mindset of a couch fan. It’s cool I did that last Saturday, but what did I do today?
Kicking is all geometry and understanding that an extra point is a 16-degree window. I never had an opportunity in high school to kick a 50-yard field goal. In practice I would hit from 60 (yards). Now I can hit from 70. But it’s a way different deal when you’ve got nine guys down and 10 guys rushing. I’ve always had a big leg, but it’s way different in a game.
I’m fortunate. I haven’t really gone through any kind of dry spell yet as far as kicking. Knock on wood. I hope it doesn’t happen. I won’t get complacent—there’s always something to work on. Even if the ball goes straight down the middle, you can always tweak something.
I used to be superstitious, but it’s no way to live. I’ve always been big on wristbands--one on my left wrist and two on my right. Some days I’ll wear five on my left wrist just to make my brain mad. You can kick with 10 wristbands on your arm, and it doesn’t matter. You don’t need these-colored cleats or tape on your wrist. Even at Oklahoma I told myself, it’s not the wrist tape that makes the ball go through the uprights, it’s the process.
My web site has been great because it’s gotten me in touch with a few high school players who I will text weekly. We talk about the mental side of it. It’s awesome to be able to help these kids out. You must be vulnerable in sharing what you know.
My faith is the reason I kick – I don’t kick for my faith. That’s the best way to put it. I don’t really like sports all that much. It’s just a distraction from reality. I kick so I can plant seeds and one day when I’m older I’ll be able to harvest them. Hopefully some grown men or some young kids are sitting on the couch and maybe they think, “Hey, there’s something different about that kid. What’s his deal? Oh, he follows the Lord. Let me try that out. What does that look like?” Football is a platform to show what my beliefs and morals really are. And in the process, I just want to help my team out.