Ervin Hoping To Get Some Kicks

Kicking a football has been a way of life for Chet Ervin, and he's hoping that way of life continues as some sort of kicking specialist for a professional football team. He's really not too picky either.

In fact, he's willing to leave the United States if it means he can continue to kick a football. While playing in the Las Vegas All-American Classic a few weeks ago, Chet booted the ball well enough to interest a couple of different scouts from Canadian Football League teams. "I'd like to continue to play football so I'd be willing to go to Canada if that‘s what it came to."

At the University of Cincinnati, Chet Ervin had all three kicking jobs at one time or another. He's kicked off, kicked field goals and punted, but he thinks the toughest job of being a kicker is the mental part. "I came from a very tiny high school in Kentucky to kicking in my third college game in front of 65,000 people (UC vs. OSU at Paul Brown Stadium). I had to develop a lot mentally in my freshman year, and I didn't do as well as I wanted to. But I think I definitely improved throughout my career. I had a lot of bumps on the field and off the field that made me a lot tougher mentally."

Since Chet has handled the majority of Cincinnati punts over the last four years, he was asked to handicap the competition next year at UC. "I think they're in really good shape. I think me, Kevin Huber or Brian Steele could have punted last year. Both Kevin and Brian have very strong legs and are working very hard to compete for the job. The only thing holding either of them back right now is consistency. Both have a chance to be very good punters in the Big East next year."

As Chet reflected on his Bearcat career, one game stuck out, and for those in attendance on that rainy afternoon in Morgantown, it was the highlight of the season. "I definitely remember the West Virginia game my sophomore year. I got the chance to showcase what I could do in all three aspects of the kicking game." It was a rainy, cold day and Chet hit three pressure packed field goals from 44, 43 and 37 yards and repeatedly helped the team in field position with a punting average of 42.5 yards. "Warming up that day, I never would have believed the kind of day I ended up having. It was cold and pouring rain and the fans were yelling at me to shank the ball, but you just never know how things will turn out."

Last year in the NFL, the average punt was about 43 yards. During Chet's career at UC, he's averaged over 40 yards a kick just one season (41.2 in 2004). Chet was asked if he has a realistic shot at an NFL job. "I've never had a problem with distance or hang time. If you put me up against any NFL kicker right now, I believe I have just as strong a leg or as good a hang time. My problem has always been consistency. That's why my average has never been as good as I wanted it to be. Throughout my career, I've always had that one punt each game that just killed my average."

Kicking jobs in the NFL are tough to come by. First of all, there are only 32 jobs, and the majority of players that win those jobs can keep them for as long as 15 seasons. However Ervin showed last year that he doesn't get discouraged easily. Bearcat fans probably remember that Chet lost his punting duties before the opener of his senior year. A lot of veterans would have pouted or quit, but not Ervin. "I never thought about quitting. I was more disappointed in myself. The coaches told me to continue working and continue improving, and that's how I saw it too."

Coaches always talk about special teams being one third of the game, but college coaching staffs very seldom include coaching specialists in the mechanics of kicking. Cincinnati was no different, and it can be tough on the kickers. "None of the coaches throughout my four years ever knew a tremendous amount about kicking. They even admitted that themselves, but I don't believe any colleges have coaches that strictly focus on kicking. We found it kind of hard sometimes to improve so we tried to help each other as much as we could." Chet will be heading to California in a few weeks to work with Paul Asad, a kicking specialist. He's hoping that kind of last minute tutoring may help him impress some NFL scouts for Cincinnati's March 10th "Pro Day."

For the time being, Chet is on UC's campus working toward his degree. He will graduate in June with a major in criminal justice and a minor in business, but he hopes that degree is for the future. The degree he wants to use for the present is the one he earned on the football field with his right foot. He dreams of being an NFL kicker, but he knows it won't be easy. He's seen his buddy, Jon Ruffin, get released from an arena team in Nashville this season and return to a manual labor job in New Orleans. When a past Lou Groza Award winner is unable to stick with an arena football team, it shows the competitiveness of these jobs. But Chet's no stranger to adversity, and he seems ready for his next challenge.

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