Huston Looking for Sixth Season

Reporters got a chance to talk to kicker Josh Huston Tuesday. The Findlay native believes he will be granted a sixth season of eligibility by the NCAA. Click here for more.

It wasn't as dramatic, or exciting as a quarterback battle, but remember Ohio State's placekicking battle in 2001?

Redshirt freshman Josh Huston was in a heated competition with a true freshman named Mike Nugent.

They split time for a while, with Nugent getting most of the opportunities towards the end of the season.

Neither fared well. Huston finished the season 3 of 10 on field goals, while Nugent connected on 7 of 14.

The two kickers then went in opposite directions. Nugent went on to become the best kicker in the history of the school and a two-time first-team All-American. Huston battled injuries following the 2001 season, and even when healthy, it was too late to unseat the near-automatic "Nuge."

However, with Nugent graduating this year, there could be a huge void at kicker in 2006. Buckeye fans have become accustomed to looking at 50-yard field goals as mere chip shots. Nugent has spoiled everyone.

But, thanks to a possible sixth year of eligibility for Huston, OSU's kicking situation might be just fine next year.

Huston is confident that his sixth year will be granted by the NCAA.

"Yeah, I think so," he said. "I mean, the chances are good enough that Coach (Jim) Tressel told me, ‘We don't want you doing any of the senior stuff.' You know, like the Senior Tackle, Tunnel of Pride, banquet. So, as far as he's concerned, I'm concerned and the team's concerned, I'm a junior right now."

Fan-favorite Tyson Walter was a recent Buckeye to receive a sixth year.

"Let's put it this way: Ohio State has never been declined a sixth year," Huston said. "They've told me – compliance has told me – that this case is one of the strongest they've had, if not the strongest. There's been other cases where it's been shaky and they still granted the sixth year.

"For me, there were two years I couldn't play because of medical reasons (knee surgery, torn hip cartilage). There was no question in the minds of the doctors and they had everything documented, so there should be enough there for the NCAA to clear it."

Although the chances seem to be in Huston's favor, does the Findlay native worry that things might not work out. The NCAA is anything but predictable.

"Unless there's something unforeseen, in my mind I'm back next year," Huston said. "I go home thinking every night what it's going to be like next year to kick ad do all this stuff.

"Could it possibly not happen? Yeah. I mean, there's that possibility, but like the coaches say and like compliance has said, there's a really, really good chance."

Huston will be informed of the decision within two months.

"Sometime in February is the date," he said. "Could be a nice birthday present for me – my birthday is in February."

After watching Nugent kick his way into the record books, Huston can't wait to get his chance to perform.

"I'm real excited," he said. "Mike's done such a great job for this university, this team, and I can't wait to come in here next year and just try and do as well as he did."

There's been a lot of talk that freshman kicker Ryan Pretorius – the former rugby player from South Africa – has been very impressive during his short time on campus. Therefore, is Huston even sure the job is his if he does come back for another year?

"Coach (Tressel) always says, whenever there's a graduating senior, the position's open, no matter who's the backup, it's open," Huston said. "Until you really prove yourself and show that you can come out there and do it, it's open. But I think Coach Tressel has confidence in me. I've done well in the past in kicking scrimmages and spring games and whatnot.

"When Mike was gone (during bowl practice), I was 17 for 22, and that's 77 percent. Not too bad, a lot of room for improvement. So, I think they're expecting me to play next year and I'm expecting myself to play, but there's always the possibility that I won't."

Huston battled Kyle Turano for the punting job in camp, but says his punting days are likely over.

"I'll just concentrate on kicking, I think," Huston said. "Punting and kicking really wears out your leg – especially if you watch all the punts they make the punter punt over there before practice. They get a lot in there. But I think it will benefit the team better if I just kick next year."

Turano (who wasn't available for comment) also has considered applying for a sixth year of eligibility. But as a transfer student, it won't be easy.

"He said something about it, I know he's met with compliance, but I don't know what they've said at all," Huston said, regarding Turano's sitiation. "It would be great if he could. I know he got hurt one of the years at Bowling Green, but I know he also played there. So, I'm not really sure, but if that would work out for him, that would be awesome too."

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