It never ceases to amaze me that kickers are often credited with scoring the most points for a football team. But when you think about it, it certainly does make sense; they get a point on every touchdown (mostly) and get three points whenever no one else on offense can muster any production.
It's no wonder, with that in mind, that Jim Tressel, the man in charge of Ohio State last decade, put a huge emphasis on the kicking game. One of the basic tenets of "Tresselball" focuses on the kicker specifically, in that a field goal is almost as important as a touchdown. We booed on occasion when Tressel would send out one of his mighty-legged players on fourth down and goal from the two-yard line, but three points was always worth more than the potential of six points a touchdown would award. Tressel won a lot of games with that in mind, and while he's up in Akron having some #QuietTime, I like to think he's thinking about his kickers while pulling quotes from the air.
The importance of the kicking game (and all special teams, for that matter) cannot be understated on Buckeye teams from the 2000's or now, as Urban Meyer has taken a similar page out of Tressel's Winner's Manual, bringing in one of the country's most sought-after special teams gurus for his future players. Obviously, kicking can win important games, and Meyer wants to be sure to follow the model created by Tressel.
The kickers Meyer will bring in will all have mighty big shoes to fill, so to speak, as our All-Decade team features two great kickers, and one of the best collegiate kickers to every boot the pigskin, in the 'Shoe or anywhere.
The candidates are:
Josh Huston (2000-2005)
Josh Huston had a long and winding road from signing with Ohio State in 2000 to departing the school following the 2005 season. After redshirting the 2000 season, Huston lost the battle for the starting kicking position to someone named Nugent. After suffering an injury in 2002, Huston petitioning the NCAA for a medical redshirt which would eventually be granted. After being stuck on the sidelines until Nuge exhausted his eligibility, Huston grabbed the OSU kicking job and ran with it. During the 2005 season, he hit 22 of 28 field goals and 44 of 45 extra points. In the epic 2005 loss to eventual national champion Texas, Huston made 5-of-6 field goals, equalling an Ohio State record.
Aaron Pettrey (2006-2009)
Aaron Pettrey was another of Ohio State's notable kickers in the last decade, and he was plenty successful in his time wearing the scarlet and gray. He was the kicker for the 2006 national runner up team, and hit an impressive 86/90 PATs and a respectable 29/38 field goals as a starter and backup from 2006-2009, scoring 173 points (putting him ahead of Devin Barclay). Pettrey was mostly reliable in his stint as Buckeye kicker, but had the difficult task of filling the shoes of the next person on our list, and played admirably in his time at Ohio State.
Devin Barclay (2007-2010)
Devin Barclay's career at Ohio State did not start in typical fashion. Originally, Barclay got his start in soccer, as a Nike Project-40 player in Major League Soccer. Barclay enjoyed some time in the MLS from 2001-2005, finishing his MLS career for the Columbus Crew. But after four appearances on Black and Gold Blvd., he took his talents slightly to the southwest to kick for the Buckeyes. The soccer player didn't disappoint as a college kicker, either, hitting 27/34 field goals, and never once missing any of his 74 PATs. He also did this:
But the winner is:
Mike Nugent (2001-2004)
Was there any doubt? Mike Nugent wasn't just the best kicker on Ohio State in the last decade, but you would be hard pressed to find a better kicker in the country from 2001-2004. A few have come close, but no one instilled the same amount of calm about the kicking game on any team the way Nugent did.
What exactly was Nugent responsible for during his time in a Buckeye jersey? Take a look:
- 136/139 PATs (97.8%)
- 72/88 FGs (81.8%)
- 352 Points (most in Ohio State history)
- 2002 & 2004 Consensus All-American
- 2002 & 2004 First-Team All-Big Ten
- 2004 Lou Groza Award
- Broke or tied 22 Ohio State records in his Buckeye career.
- Drafted by the New York Jets in 2005 in the second round, 47th overall.
A kicker. Drafted in the second round of the NFL draft. Jets gonna Jets. Give Nugent credit, though: he's backed up his high selection with his leg. He's played for a few teams (the Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Arizona Cardinals and currently the Cincinnati Bengals) and is an impressive 81% on FGs and 98% on PATs.
2004 was perhaps his best statistical year in college (and included my favorite Nugent kick of his entire career), but the year that put him in the national spotlight was 2002, where he went 45/46 on PATs and 25/28 on FGs. He would lose the Groza Award to Iowa's Nate Kaeding that year, but Nugent ended up with a nicer, if not smaller, piece of hardware at the end of the season: a national championship ring.
All hail NUUUGGGEEEEE, LGHL's All-Decade Kicker.