Kevin Lovell has moved on after being the Bearcat place kicker for the
last three seasons, and the candidates are starting to line up to be his
replacement. One of those
candidates is Jake Rogers from
Describing his one year high school performance by
saying, "I did fairly well" is probably an understatement. Jake said he made 9 of his 11 field goal
attempts with a long of 52 yards.
One of his misses was from 49 yards out. He was almost perfect in extra point
tries making 23 of 24. But what
could give him the edge over his competitors is his strong leg. Coach Elston believes
The NCAA will be moving college kickoffs back to the 30-yard-line next season which means place kickers will need their kickoffs to carry five yards further for a chance to get a touchback. Jake isn't concerned about the extra distance. "Once I get back to kicking every day, I don't see too much of a problem." Jake is welcoming the new rule since it will be the same as the NFL's kickoff distance. "Hopefully, kicking from the 30 for all four years could be a good thing for (NFL) scouts." Jake was redshirted last season so he has four years of eligibility remaining.
Spring practices under Coach Kelly have been different from Coach Dantonio's. Coach Dantonio had his kickers performing every day as part of practice, but Jake has spent the majority of his practice time watching others from the sideline. "Random days we have field goal and kickoff. We had field goal Monday and Tuesday, but usually before practice Coach Elston has us doing field goals and kickoffs."
Jake is well aware that scholarship money could well be the bonus to winning the place kicking duties next season. "I feel pretty strongly about it. It's a competition right now so I'm excited about it." The only other place kicker practicing so far has been Joe Carithers, also a walk-on last year from Dacula, Georgia, but I'm told that Brandon Yingling could soon be joining the competition as he clears up an off field issue. Jake thinks there might be another competitor in August if no one clearly claims the job this spring. "I think they're bringing in one more person just to see what happens, but right now it's between Joe and me."
Hitting a 52 yard field goal in high school gives Jake confidence, but he knows he still has some obstacles to overcome in the college game. "In high school you have a tee, and here in college you kick off the ground. I also know I need to get more game experience." That game experience will likely begin on Saturday, April 21 at 7 o'clock in the first ever Bearcat Bowl spring game.