San Jose State kicker Austin Lopez wrapped up a four-year starting career with the Spartans’ bowl win over Georgia State and SJSU was actively looking to add a scholarship kicker as a potential replacement in 2016. On Monday, San Jose State offered Jake Lanski of Ventura College and he accepted on the spot.
Lanski is a mid-year transfer. He signed and submitted his letter of intent earlier today.
About two weeks prior, SJSU special teams coach Dan Ferrigno watched Lanski kick in person.
“My first field goal I kicked was a 19-yarder and I shanked my first field goal, it was absolutely the worst kick of my life,” Lanski said. “He pulled me aside and said, ‘Hey, I believe in you. I flew down just for you and I know you can do it, just relax.’ After he said that I thought, if he has confidence after I shanked that 19-yard field goal, that’s “the guy” right there.”
Other factors that went into his decision to commit to San Jose State were his location in proximity to his grandfather as well as the amount of field goals SJSU attempted this season.
“My grandpa is actually from Berkeley and he didn’t get to come to a lot of my games down here in Ventura,” Lanski said. “San Jose is right down the road so he’ll be able to come to all the games.”
Lanski also had interest from Cal Poly, San Diego State and Memphis.
As a sophomore, he made 18 of 20 field goals, made 49 of 52 extra points and earned All-Region and All-American honors. However, he didn’t have many options to get to the next level as a mid-year transfer.
The kicker had a lot of interest coming out of high school. He had planned to attend USC as a walk-on (due to USC’s sanctions), but had a major injury just after his senior season.
“Coming out of high school, I had almost every West Coast school looking at me,” Lanski said. “I remember having letters sitting in front of me from LSU, UNLV, Arizona, Colorado State, just a lot of schools. But i tore my ACL in an all-star game, a meaningless game on the opening kickoff. It took a year and a half, I had full reconstructive knee surgery, couldn’t walk for three months. It was bad… I was probably going to walk-on at USC, but I tore my ACL about a month before I was going to make that decision.”
“It was luckily the kicking leg. If it was the plant leg, I probably still wouldn’t be able to plant on it.”
Due to Lanski’s injury, he grayshirted after graduating in the class of 2013. He played as a freshman in 2014, but wasn’t quite 100 percent.
“Last season, I didn’t feel like myself at all and that’s part of the reason I feel I didn’t get recruited,” Lanski said. “In my film, I looked awkward. My kicks look different. This season, I felt like myself. They say it takes two years to fully heal from it. I believe it now… I owe all my success to my strength and conditioning coach. He’s a miracle worker.”
“If I hadn’t been a mid-year guy, I probably would have had some options come up,” Lanksi said after the 2015 season. “But I wanted to go with the people that believed in me first.”
Lanski will come to San Jose State in January and compete for the kicker spot in spring football. He also plans to take on kickoff duties, something he didn’t get to do in junior college.
“I love kickoffs; I can’t wait to hit people,” Lanski said. “From what it sounded like, he wants it deep and into the corners. Right on the hash and deep to the end zone. When I was watching the bowl game, that’s what their kicker was trying to do. And I can do that, I’m fully capable.”
As a kicker, Lanski believe his range extends well beyond 55 yards. His longest field goal of the 2015 season was 48 yards, but the opportunity didn’t arise to boot one from 50+ yards.
“They just lost a senior kicker, so the coach said I’m coming into a good situation,” Lanski said. “They couldn’t promise me the position, but I don’t plan on not starting. I believe in myself that much… Anything from 55 yards and in, I’m not going to miss. That’s where I feel comfortable.”
At San Jose State, Lanski plans to major in Psychology.