Having a consistent, reliable kicker on your football team is kind of a luxury isn’t it? They don’t come around often, but when they do, it’s like a breath of fresh air. College football games are nerve-racking enough without having to worry if you’ll make that game-winning extra point. Or if your team has the ball and the clock is running out, its comforting to know that if they can just get into field goal range, it’ll be game over. Your kicker won’t miss.
If you’re reading this and thinking “Who the heck worries about extra points? I use that time to get a drink refill,” that’s because you are an Ohio State fan. In other words, you are a fan of a football team who’s starting kicker hasn’t missed an extra point since 2016 when Tyler Durbin missed just two of his 65 attempts. Before that, it was 2013 when Drew Basil made 77 of his 79 attempts. Otherwise, the Buckeyes have been in great hands over the last several years with Sean Nuernberger (2014-2018) who made all 216 of his extra point attempts before handing the reins over to Blake Haubeil (2018-2020) who made all 146 of his.
You might take this for granted, a kicker who makes all of his extra points. But once that is no longer a given, you’ll long for the days when Ohio State had a kicker like Haubeil, who also made 28 of 35 field goals (80%)— good for No. 2 in Ohio State’s record books for career field goal percentage, just under Mike Nugent’s 81.8%.
Two of those missed field goals happened last season, and were likely the result of a groin injury he endured prior to the second game of the season at Penn State. While his injury caused him to miss two games last season, it certainly isn’t serious enough to slow him down in terms of NFL interest.
He’s 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, has one of the strongest legs in this year’s draft class (according to many a draft scout), made a 55-yard field goal with ease in 2019, and has a 61-yard field goal under his belt from his junior year of high school. He kicks the ball out of the end zone on kickoffs more often than not (again, another luxury!), and will without a doubt find himself on an NFL roster come May, whether that be as an undrafted free agent or a late-round draft pick.
Haubeil more or less flew under the radar during his time as a Buckeye, silently establishing himself as one of the best kickers to wear scarlet and gray. But don’t worry, I caught up with the future NFL rookie to ask him about everything from his time at Ohio State, his offseason plans, his favorite meal and more. If you didn’t miss him already, this oughta do it.
LGHL: What is your most memorable moment from your time at Ohio State?
Haubeil: I would have to say that nothing came close to the atmosphere at the ‘Shoe for the 2018 rivalry game against TTUN. When we blocked their punt, that was the loudest I’ve ever heard it inside our stadium.
LGHL: If you could sit down and have dinner with anyone — dead or alive — who would it be?
Haubeil: Andre the Giant. I want to see if all of these stories about his eating and drinking endeavors are true!
LGHL: Being from Buffalo, were you a fan of a different college team growing up before becoming a Buckeye? If so, which team? And what made you choose Ohio State?
Haubeil: Growing up, I rooted for both Ohio State and Notre Dame. I was always an Ohio State fan first, and I always wanted to be a Buckeye from the first time I ever played the game. I chose Ohio state because of the educational opportunities, rich football traditions, and proximity to my family. It’s also not easy to turn down Coach Urban Meyer when he asks you to be his next kicker.
LGHL: How’s your offseason going? What are your plans as we approach the NFL Draft?
Haubeil: My offseason is going very well right now. As always, I’m training to be as explosive as possible. I plan to continue my strength training and field work throughout the next several weeks as we approach OSU’s Pro Day. I was also fortunate enough to have been invited to participate in the NFL Combine, which will take place leading up to the NFL Draft.
LGHL: What is your pet peeve?
Haubeil: People who bite their fingernails. I try to tell people that’s how you get sick!!
LGHL: How did you discover you were good at kicking? In other words, was it something you knew you wanted to do when you were little so you began practicing at a young age? Or did you try it out later in life and realized “hey, I’m pretty good at this?”
Haubeil: When I was 10 years old, I would kick extra points for my little loop team. We were the only team in the entire league that kicked extra points. We started attempting field goals halfway through the season, and that’s when I started to realize it was something that I had a passion for.
LGHL: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Haubeil: I am a huge hockey fan. I’ve taken more shots with a hockey stick than kicked footballs in my life. I also played quarterback, linebacker, and punter in high school in addition to kicker.
LGHL: What is your favorite Ohio State tradition?
Haubeil: Skull Session (2020 sort of ruined that for us…..)
LGHL: If you were given a last meal, what would it be?
Haubeil: Duff’s Chicken Wings (Buffalo, NY). Everyone thinks they know what good chicken wings taste like until they come to Buffalo.
LGHL: What are you going to miss most about your time at Ohio State?
Haubeil: Honestly, being around all of my teammates. It’s really neat to develop different relationships with everyone each year. You could actually have 50 unique conversations every day in the locker room if you really wanted to or had the time!
LGHL: Celebrity crush?
Haubeil: Selena Gomez
LGHL: I’ve always wondered how kickers keep their cool when it comes down to game-winning or game-altering situations. Did you have any strategies or mantras you would tell yourself in those situations? How did you calm your nerves and remain focused?
Haubeil: From the start of my kicking career, I was trained to block it all out. My father always asked me if I heard how loud the crowd was, or if I felt the noise. I always tell him that those are things I don’t even see or hear, even though its right on top of us. During these impactful situations, I always come back to my routine. You can’t treat any kick differently. The moment you treat a kick differently is the moment you break consistency. Consistency is what separates the good from the elite.
LGHL: What did you major in?
Haubeil: Strategic Communications.
LGHL: When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? Was the NFL ever on your radar before college?
Haubeil: Ever since I started putting my entire heart into kicking a football, playing in the NFL has been the ultimate goal. Aside from that, I’ve always wanted to mentor others, and work with youth whether it be academically, or sports related.
LGHL: Who do you look up to as a role model?
Haubeil: My parents. They have had the biggest influence on me and who I’ve become as a person.
LGHL: Who on the team did you get along with best?
Haubeil: Sean Nuernberger. Very few people can relate to how difficult it is being a kicker at Ohio State. Sean took me under his wing from the very beginning. I could relate to Sean very well, and learned a tremendous amount during my first two years.
LGHL: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Haubeil: Australia. I heard it’s pretty awesome over there!
LGHL: Who is the funniest coach at Ohio State?
Haubeil: Matt Barnes. All business on the field, but if you need a laugh, he’s definitely the one.
LGHL: Any advice to Jake Seibert as he steps into your role?
Haubeil: Live in the moment. You can’t control the past, and you can’t predict the future. Always remember to have fun, even in times when it doesn’t seem that way. These years will fly by, so embrace your time as a Buckeye, and do whatever it takes to get better every single day.
LGHL: Buckeye Nation is certainly going to miss you. Anything you’d like to tell your fans?
Haubeil: The support from all of Buckeye Nation has truly been incredible. It was an honor to play in front of such a passionate fanbase. Looking back at my time at Ohio State, I couldn’t believe I only missed one kick at the Horseshoe. However, the more I thought about it, it didn’t surprise me as much, because when you play in front of Buckeye Nation, they truly bring the best out of you. Go Bucks!