In today's football landscape special teams and specialty players have become much more prevalent then they were in the past and are now looked at as an equal to offense and defense by the most successful teams. Even taking a look into the NFL the position of kicker has become one of utmost importance to be a successful franchise. If you have any doubts of that, check out replays of Super Bowl XXXVI and Super Bowl XXXVIII where New England kick Adam Vinatieri knocked through two last second, game winning field goals for the Patriots.
In the Class of 2007 the Oklahoma coaching staff addressed their situation at kicker by extending an early offer to Jimmy Stevens, a 5-foot-6, 170-pound athlete from Heritage Hall School. Stevens went 50 of 76 on field goals throughout his high school career and broke the previous national high school record of 48 field goals made in a career as a senior. He has already reported to Norman along with most of the rest of Oklahoma's incoming class, but took a trip to California this weekend to continue his development.
"I'm actually out in Los Angeles right now with Chris Sailer for kicking camp," Stevens said. "I got in last night and we're about to go in and do a film session here within the next hour or so where we'll go over mechanics. When we go over film there are things that you need to be fundamentally sound in to be consistent like positioning of your plant foot, your follow through and the angles you use. It's actually a lot like golf to tell you the truth."
"This is the third time I have worked with Chris as I attended a camp here in Los Angeles before and also went to one in Las Vegas," Stevens added. "I have learned a lot from him over the years and it helped me to become the kicker that I am today, but this weekend is really about getting some fine-tuning done in my game from one of the best in the nation."
Stevens played soccer from the time he was four years old until his sophomore year in high school which was the point he decided to stop playing club soccer and focus completely on kicking for his high school football team. At that point he would have never expected to be in the position he is today, which is why he was so quick to seize the opportunity when it was given to him last year.
"I got a text message when I was at school that said to call them as soon as I could, so I returned the call and I was offered a scholarship," Stevens explained. "I immediately called my parents and let them know what happened and they told me to do whatever I wanted to, so I called back and committed probably five or ten minutes after they offered me. I wasn't expecting an offer that soon from Oklahoma, but when I got it the decision was a pretty easy one considering Oklahoma was always my dream school."
As for playing time, Stevens will have competition from a few walk-on kickers and will not be competing for a starting role this season. If all goes as planned, he will be sitting out the season entirely.
"Garrett Hartley will be a senior this year and was a Lou Groza Award finalist this year, so the plan is for me to red-shirt this season and then start next year," Stevens stated. "Right now it has just been about getting to know my teammates, coming out here to get better and settle in at school. I will be going back to Norman after this camp and will continue to get to know the guys, but I have known some of them for a while now because I played in All-Star games with them and met them on visits. My best friend is attending OU and will be rooming with me this year, so for now I'm just hanging out with the guys."
Jimmy Stevens Highlights (1)-
Jimmy Stevens Highlights (2)-