Huston Shines In Kick Scrimmage

Sixth-year senior Josh Huston enjoyed a big day during Thursday's kick scrimmage. Huston feels he has solidified his chance of being OSU's kicker in 2005, although he still awaits word from the NCAA on his petition for a sixth year of eligibility.

Josh Huston has waited over five years for a day like Thursday, when he appeared to be the starting kicker for the Ohio State football team.

Huston was 8 of 9 on field goals with a long kick of 50 yards. His missed field goal and PAT kick were each deflected by the defense.

"It felt good out there," Huston said. "I felt pretty comfortable. I hit my first few balls pretty well. Coming toward the open end, I didn't feel as comfortable, but they were still straight. That's a good sign. I think we made a lot of progress today as a snap-hold-kick unit.

"In my mind, I made everything. I think they got in and had pressure on the two blocks. There were a few kicks, like the 50-yarder that I didn't hit that well. It was still a 50-yarder, but I didn't hit it that well."

The biggest thing Huston, who is hoping for a sixth season of eligibility in 2005, did on Thursday was step out of the shadow of All-American kicker Mike Nugent, who figures to be a first day NFL draft selection on Saturday.

"In my mind, I have always known that I can do it," Huston said. "I thought last spring I did well and last fall in the kick scrimmage I did well, so in my mind I felt I was always right there, waiting for a chance to do it."

Huston was asked about how it feels to know his shot is coming.

"It's just a lot of excitement," he said. "The sixth year is not for sure yet. I'm really excited. This was the first time I've been out there and I didn't feel anxious or nervous. I felt comfortable and ready to do it. I'm just waiting for the season."

Huston actually split time with Nugent early in the 2001 season. But Nugent won the job late in the year and then became one of college football's most dependable kickers over the last three years. Meanwhile, Huston battled health issues -- the reason for his NCAA petition for another year -- and bided his time.

"It's been rough," he said. "You have to start asking yourself, 'What do you want to do?' and 'What are your goals?' I decided to stick it out and just work really hard and hopefully get my shot."

Huston said he still doesn't know if his sixth year has been approved by the NCAA.

"I'm going to talk to compliance tomorrow and see if they have any word or if they know when they'll know," he said. "You guys will probably know before me. That's the joke I have with my family. They call and ask, 'Do you have your sixth year yet?' I say, 'You know, you'll probably know before me and be calling me.'

"I knew this was going to happen. The NCAA has a lot more important things to worry about than me. They said one to four weeks, but I knew that meant six to eight. I'm confident in the stuff that we have. With all of the evidence we have, they've said this looks like a pretty good case. If they look at it correctly, it should be good. It hasn't worried me too much."

Huston talked about the pressure of being a kicker.

"We're at Ohio State," he said. "When you're in front of 100,000 people, you will have pressure whether Mike Nugent was the kicker or someone else. I think Mike has helped because he set such a high standard."

Consistency has always been a problem for Huston. But he showed this spring that, while he may not be automatic like Nugent, he can still get the job done.

"Well, kicking for six years," he joked when asked for the reason for his improvement. "Really, in the pressure situation, I concentrate on kicking through. I get my spot where I'm aiming and I just trust it. You just trust in your line, trust in your hold and follow through."

Huston is known for having a strong leg. He was asked how far he could make a kick in a game situation.

"These college balls are not the 'K' balls, so they fly," he said. "I know I hit a ball the other day that I swore could have been good from 70. I give them about 55 or 57 yards in a game. That's about where we'll go to."

Finishing up his fifth year as a college student, Huston will likely need to enroll in graduate school to be eligible in the fall.

"I'm going to graduate," he said. "I'm working on my third major right now -- marketing, real estate and finance. I'm going to try and get into graduate school. (OSU's) Fisher (Business College) is a pretty tough school."

But the lure of finally being OSU's starting kicker is what has kept this native of Findlay, Ohio, going.

"I've been waiting for this day for a long while," he said. "I can remember the last play of the Alamo Bowl. I had a smile on my face because I knew this was my turn to get ready. We're still working hard and can't wait.

"I think it will probably hit me running out on to the field against Miami. I'll probably realize when it's time to kick an extra point that I'm not watching anymore, I'll be the one doing it. That's when it will actually hit me."

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