Basil Knows It's His Time To Shine

Things rarely go according to plan for freshman kickers in college football, and Drew Basil found that out in 2010. A year older and wiser, now Basil hopes for a breakout campaign this year. He's had a solid camp and says he's ready to take over full-time kicking duties from Devin Barclay.

In hindsight, the Ohio State coaching staff probably made a mistake of its handling of Drew Basil a season ago.

The highly touted true freshman arrived in March 2011 with a cannon for a leg, one so strong he nearly made a 55-yard field goal the spring he arrived in OSU's kick scrimmage. With that in mind, Ohio State decided to start last season with Basil as the team's kickoff man and long field goal specialist while senior Devin Barclay would take the shorter field goals.

That turned into a bit of a disaster. Basil had his first field goal, a 52-yarder, blocked and returned for a touchdown in the opener against Marshall. One week later, a kickoff against Miami (Fla.) was returned for a touchdown, and Basil later had another 53-yard field goal try blocked as well.

"I still think about that every once in a while, just the fact that they both got blocked," he said. "My goal this year is not to get any points scored against me. Last year in the first two games, as everybody knows there were negative-14 points against me.

"The first (block), I was pretty upset, just the fact that the block went straight into the guy's hands and he just took off. The second time it happened, I was just thinking, ‘There's no way that could have happened the second time I've been out here.' "

Dick Tressel, OSU's running backs coach who has taken over as the special teams assistant this year under first-year head man Luke Fickell, said putting the young Basil – who was the No. 6 rated kicker in the nation in his class – in those situations was probably a coaching error.

"Last year, we asked him to do some things that were a little bit out of character," Tressel said. "I think that put him in a bad stance. His leg is so strong, coming in, Devin Barclay didn't have an extremely strong leg, so we said, ‘Hey Drew, why don't you come kick off and kick long field goals?'

"That probably wasn't a great idea. We should have just had him kicking field goals and not trying to be some super leg."

The good news, Basil said, is that he learned from the experience. It helped that it wasn't all bad – Basil ended up taking 87 kickoffs for an average of 63.7 yards with nine touchbacks while improving on his consistency as the year went on.

Now, with his freshman campaign under his belt and Barclay gone to graduation, the sophomore said he's looking forward to taking over as the No. 1 kicker on an OSU squad known for its kickers over the past decade.

"Definitely I'm ready," Basil said. "I feel like getting the reps I got last year on kickoffs really helped me get everything set up for this year."

Basil got off to a slow start in his offseason preparation while resting a knee injury, but once that healed Basil and his fellow specialists found a way to prepare for the campaign – by sneaking into Ohio Stadium for practice sessions two times a week.

"We would go to the stadium and climb over the fence and get down on the field and just start kicking," he said. "Some people came down and asked us what we were doing down there. We just told them we were kicking. They were fine with it. Sometimes they shagged balls for us or just stayed out there and watched us."

That preparation helped Basil get ready for camp, but the 19-year-old – whose experience level comes in stark contrast to Barclay and Ryan Pretorius, both of whom were elder statesmen – said he was still nervous upon arrival as the new starter.

"The first couple of practices were a little bit different just knowing that I was the first man up," he said. "I'm not going to lie, my legs were shaking a little bit the first few practices of this camp knowing that I was the No. 1 guy."

Basil hasn't shown much nervousness, though. He made four of five field-goal attempts in the team's jersey scrimmage Aug. 20 and then was 5 of 6 three days later in the kick scrimmage with a long of 45 yards.

His one miss was crucial, though, as a 49-yard try on the last play of the scrimmage banked off the left upright. Before the kick, head coach Luke Fickell called timeout and announced the play would determine which unit would walk back from Ohio Stadium to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, and the defense was all over Basil before the kick went up.

"I can't be missing any like that," Basil said before adding the pressure didn't get to him. "If that noise is going to affect me, then I don't know what 106,000 people are going to do. It was my fault."

Still, his impressive kicking in total during camp has turned heads.

"He's pretty accurate, gets it up, is calm and relaxed," Tressel said. "He's really doing a nice job."

Basil, who said his range extends out to 52 to 53 yards comfortably, said he's hoping for big things in 2011.

"Honestly, I just want to be perfect from 42 and in and then anything outside of 42 I need to be in the upper 80s to 90 percent at the very least," he said.

Buckeye Sports Top Stories