Ohio State has always had a strong kicking unit from Lou “The Toe” Groza, to Mike Nugent, to former MLS player turned collegiate kicker Devin Barclay, the Buckeyes seemingly have a reliable kicker whenever the game is on the line.
In recent years the Buckeyes have been blessed by the services of Sean Nuernberger.
Undoubtedly, Nuernberger will go down as one of the most under appreciated kickers during his time in the scarlet and gray. Whether it was the fact that he never missed an extra point or the fact that he holds the Ohio State record for most consecutive extra points made at 216, Nuernberger was automatic after a touchdown and played a key role on the team that won the National Championship in 2014.
The Buckeyes missed the services of Nuernberger in 2016 when he missed the season due to a groin injury. Tyler Durbin filled in for Nuernberger, but it became clear late that season that Nuernberger was an essential part of the kicking unit and could not be replaced.
After five seasons with the team Nuernberger is gone. Despite the loss of Nuernberger the Ohio State kicking unit may be even better in 2019. Enter a familiar face, kicker Blake Haubeil.
The former No. 2 kicker in the recruiting class of 2017 steps into his junior season with some experience already under his belt. In 2017 he handled kickoff duties and in 2018 he started multiple games while Nuernberger was injured.
Last season fans got a mere taste of Haubeil’s strong leg.
For the season he was a perfect 37-for-37 on extra points and 10-for-13 on field goal attempts. He won special teams player of the game in week seven against Minnesota after going a perfect 3-for-3 on field goals, hitting a long of a 47 yards.
In fact that 47-yard field goal was the longest from an Ohio State kicker since Sean Nuernberger hit a 49-yard field goal on the road against Penn State in 2014.
The Buckeyes appear to have a kicker that can hit long field goals in Haubeil, something that will be crucial in a tough conference like the Big Ten.
Luckily for Haubeil he will have the same holder and long snapper in Drue Chrisman and Liam McCullough, respectively. The experience of both Chrisman and McCullough will certainly be beneficial to this kicking unit. In fact during the spring game the same unit remained on the field for every kick.
The primary concern for the kicking unit is depth. Besides Haubeil there are no other scholarship kickers on the roster.
Dominic DiMaccio and Zach Hoover are the only two other kickers on the roster. They will be expected to compete for the backup kicking job during the summer.
Barring an injury Blake Haubeil should shine in 2019 under new special teams coach Matt Barnes. Last season under Barnes the Maryland kicking unit went 40-for-41 on extra points and 12-for-14 on field goal attempts.
Have no fear Buckeye Nation the kicking will continue to be consistent in 2019.