Jake Rogers Kicking For Money

Jake Rogers knows a good spring could mean finding a pot of gold. Coach Kelly has said the Bearcats need kickers, and whoever wins the competitions could have a scholarship as a bonus prize.

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 Warsaw High School in Indiana.  Earlier in the week, Bearcat special teams coordinator, Mike Elston, told Bearcat Insider that Rogers has a legitimate shot and winning the job, and Coach Kelly went on record as saying the winner would probably receive a scholarship as a bonus prize.    The ex-soccer player hatched a college plan two years ago and is now starting to see all the pieces of the plan falling into place.  "In high school, I played only one year of football.  I played all four years of soccer but decided to go out for football in my senior year just to give it a shot.  I did fairly well, and during the summer, I realized I had a better chance of going to a bigger school for football rather than soccer.  I decided to give Cincinnati a shot, and that's how I ended up here."


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 Rogers has a strong enough leg to be one of the national leaders in booting touchbacks on kickoffs should he win the job.  As a high school senior two years ago, Jake had 8% of his kickoffs result in touchbacks, but he thinks he's only gotten better with weight training and advice from a veteran.  "I'm been lifting and making a rapid fire leg, and also having Lovell here last year was a big help.  He was perfecting his art, and learning from him was a good thing." 


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.

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