In 2012, a true freshman trotted out to knock in a PAT against Grambling State following a Deante’ Gray punt return, ready to finally prove that he was worth the hype his high school highlights provided.
The crowd quieted while the student section shared nervous whispers as the protective net went up behind the posts. The snap was good, and the kick split the uprights, allowing the place to instantly erupt as the referees raised their arms.
“We have a kicker!” the students yelled repeatedly as the blonde, skinny freshman wearing a No. 33 jersey trotted off the field.
It was one of eight extra points the product from Arlington-Martin would nail that night, and the first of 79 straight he would hit all the way through his sophomore year.
Now, that young talent is a senior who has hit all but one of his 202 career PAT attempts, and has his name attached to just about every school record for kicking.
Simply put, in a year of exceptional records being broken by superstars like Trevone Boykin and Josh Doctson, Jaden Oberkrom is quietly going down as TCU’s best kicker of all time.
Now a Lou Groza semifinalist for the third time in his career, Oberkrom is set to graduate from TCU after this season with a long list of memorable moments.
Those 411 points he’s given TCU? A school record he’s continuing to build up. His 70 career field goals? Another school record - and just about a Big 12 conference record (Oklahoma’s Michael Hunnicutt graduated in 2014 with 75 made kicks).
He’s got the school record for field goals in a game for his six kicks against Texas Tech in 2012, four of the six longest field goals in school history including the record 57-harder he sank against West Virginia last week, and has one of the greatest success rates on kicks beyond 40 yards - 73.7 percent, to be specific.
And yes, that’s good for second-best in Big 12 history.
Oberkrom hasn’t let up in his senior year and final campaign as TCU’s kicker. He’s been perfect on all 46 of his extra point attempts and is on pace to break his record of 142 points in a single season. He’s 7-for-7 when it comes to kicks of 40+ yards, including three bombs from 50 or more yards. He’s also a likely candidate to get his fourth straight All-Academic Big 12 selection this year,
something to certainly mark down as a phenomenal achievement.
And in a year of phenomenal achievements for an entire team, those are some impressive accomplishments for a kid who first trotted out to silence against an FCS opponent.
In a world of #collegekickers, with heartbreaking plays like Chris Callahan’s annihilation in the Cotton Bowl or Texas losing two games due to poor special teams play, Oberkrom has been a trend against the mold.
“When he steps on the field, we have all the confidence in the world,” running back Aaron Green said at the start of the year.
That confidence has allowed TCU to be a scoring threat at any position in enemy territory, and given Oberkrom’s skills, it’s kept the team alive from time to time. His heroics in the 2014 West Virginia game kept the Horned Frogs in the playoff hunt, and his leg is likely going to keep TCU in the hunt as the most brutal part of the schedule comes up.
Those students were right in 2012 when Oberkrom knocked in his first collegiate points. TCU’s got a kicker - a record-breaking, record-creating and record-defining one.
But just like they have a stud quarterback and high-talent receiver who also are rewriting the record book, the Frogs have their stud kicker for just a few games more.
And just as he has been since that first PAT, he’ll be worth watching.