Cortez Still Kicking

Former Oregon State Kicker Jose Cortez was at Saturday's scrimmage checking in on his alma mater. He also gave some tips to Senior Ryan Cesca in a kicking session after practice in the Merritt Truax Indoor Practice Facility. caught up with Cortez after the session.

Jose! Jose! Jose! After every field goal and point after attempt during the Mike Riley era in Corvallis, the chant of the kicker's name would come over Reser (then Parker) Stadium. Jose Cortez was somewhat of a cult hero in his time in Corvallis. He handled the kickoffs and extra points in the 1997 and 1998 seasons. He holds the Oregon State records for most field goals made in a season (17), most field goals attempted in a season (26), most field goals in a quarter (4) and he kicked more 50 yard field goals than anyone else in Beaver Football history.

Cortez is now the number one kicker for the San Francisco 49ers. He was 2nd in the NFL in extra points made last year, connecting on all 47 attempts, and he was named the NFC Special Teams player of the week for Week 1. He made his first 11 FG attempts, including kicks from 52 and 49 yards, before missing a 44 yarder against Chicago. He went on to finish the season making 18 of 25 field goals.

But things were not always so bright for Cortez. He has spent time roofing houses, playing in the XFL, and also in the NFL-Europe since his Beaver career ended.

In 1999, after completing his NCAA eligibility, Cortez was invited to the Cleveland Browns training camp, but did not make the team. He played in a game with the New York Giants later that year, getting kickoff duty when Giant kicker Brad Daluiso was injured. But the Giants decided not to keep him.

In 2000, he went to the San Diego Chargers camp, where former Oregon State coach Mike Riley was the head coach. But Cortez was in a difficult spot competing against veteran kicker John Carney, who had been an established NFL player for years. He was cut before the season began. He went on to play for the Amsterdam Admirals in the NFL Europe for the 2000 season.

After the season, he returned to Oregon and worked roofing houses. This lasted until the XFL started up. Cortez jumped at the opportunity and it proved to give his career a needed push in the right direction. He has fond feelings for the failed league. "Too bad it did not work out. I was hoping it would last for more than one year because it was fun and we got paid pretty well, " Cortez said.

Although the money was good, the exposure proved to be more valuable. Cortez's play for the Los Angeles Extreme earned him an invitation to the 49ers training camp. Cortez was named the XFL Championship game MVP. He won the starting job in camp and went on to have a great year.

But just because he was successful, Cortez is not going to quit working. "There is more pressure on everybody (in the NFL). That's your job. And if you don't perform, they're going to get rid of you."

That is why Cortez still works out regularly, like he did after Saturday's scrimmage. He showed he still has his amazing leg strength, booting balls from 60 yards out. And he manages to make it look easy. He usually works out at Portland State, but might start working out more at OSU.

Cortez is signed with the 49ers for the upcoming season, but he must still earn his spot on the team.

"I have a better chance this year than before. Hopefully I will stay there for many years."

For the full transcript of the interview with Jose Cortez, including his thoughts on next year's Oregon State Football team, click here. (For premium subscribers).

BeaverBlitz Top Stories