The pressure kickers face can be suffocating.
After a team fights tooth-and-nail for the better part of four quarters, the slim margin between victory and defeat can fall entirely upon the kicker’s shoulders. Make it, he’s the hero. Miss it, he’s a bum.
One way to simulate that heart-pounding pressure during practice? By putting a full scholarship on the line. That was exactly the case during a recent Bowling Green State University football practice. Jake Suder, the team’s kicker, was on fire during the squad’s field goal period. After nailing a 57-yard attempt, BGSU head coach Mike Jinks issued Suder a sudden challenge. Make a 53-yard field goal from the right hash, and you’ll get a full scholarship.
Here’s what happened:
How awesome is that? Jinks said the challenge was totally spur-of-the-moment. The team still had two scholarships available for this year, and Jinks had long contemplated giving Suder one of them. But he made him earn it.
“Jake had just made one from 57 yards before, but I wanted to see him push his limit. And the kick was spotted on the right hash, where he has struggled a little bit, so I thought if he made that kick, that would answer my questions,” Jinks told The Toledo Blade. “Jake put the thought of a scholarship in my head last spring, because he made great strides from fall to spring.”
Jinks also says he had no idea what he was going to do had Suder missed the kick. Luckily, it never came to that. Suder served as the team’s primary kicker last season, connecting on 9 of 12 field goal attempts.
“It’s a huge weight off my shoulders,” Suder said. “I got to call my parents and tell them they didn’t have to pay for school, and that’s a huge thing.”
Now if Suder gets called upon with the game on the line, Jinks can take some solace in the fact he’s proven himself capable of succeeding in the face of enormous pressure.