Senior Ficken Has Been Kickin’

Penn State's veteran specialist is ready for preseason camp to begin. We caught up with him for a one-on-one video interview recently.

Penn State kicks off preseason camp Monday. But senior Sam Ficken has been kicking all summer.

Returning for his third year as the Nittany Lions' starting placekicker, Ficken explained that specialists don't just simply amble into camp and start booting footballs.

“You progress,” Ficken said at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago last week. “So coming into camp, I'm trying to kick three times a week, trying to get that leg in shape, because if you haven't kicked all summer, you're gonna hurt yourself due to the amount of kicking. Then in camp, you have to limit yourself and respond to how your leg is feeling -- ice baths, icing, therapy every day. Just keeping healthy is a big key for camp.”

”Coming into camp, I'm trying to kick three times a week, trying to get that leg in shape.”

Ficken will be a big key for Penn State this season. And the big key to his success will be consistency, which has eluded him to date. At one point last season, he was riding a string of 15 straight made field goals. And yet he finished the year missing three of his last four and did not hit a kick longer than 37 yards in the last six games.

For Ficken, improving in that area starts upstairs.

“The biggest change for me from my sophomore year to my junior year was my fundamentals,” he said. “Now it is attacking more of the mental aspect. I kind of had some struggles at the end of the year last year, but what I've focused on most is mentally preparing how I'm approaching the games -- certain plays, certain kicks.”

We had a chance to talk with Ficken at length in Chicago. Check out the video above to see what he had to say about being asked to represent Penn State at B1G Media Days, the young kickers on the roster, the crazy stuff new coach James Franklin does to his specialists in practice and much more.

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