In college football recruiting, everything matters. From height to weight to grade-point average to 40-yard dash times. To be considered by a big-time college football program, you’ve got to check all the boxes. Blake Haubeil, committed to Ohio State since July 2015, certainly meets the prerequisites.
A 3-star prospect from Canisius High School in Buffalo, N.Y., Haubeil isn’t an ordinary kicker. Listed as a 6-foot-3, 200-pound prospect, Haubeil is the country’s top-ranked player at his position because of his big leg and versatility.
With just under two weeks before he officially signs his letter of intent with Ohio State, Haubeil – who made his official visit with the Buckeyes the weekend of Dec. 10 – is ready to start his college career. He will head to Columbus in June but isn’t expected to be on scholarship with the Buckeyes until next January. He talked with Land of 10 about that, as well as a number of other things, in this version of Beyond the Game.
Land of 10: Why were you, the best kicker prospect in America, not at the U.S. Army All-American game?
Blake Haubeil:I don’t work with Chris Sailer, who selects the kickers for that. It looked really neat. All the commits looked great, especially (Ohio State 5-star defensive end commitment) Chase Young. He was on fire.
L10: In a class of 19 (so far) commitments, you’re the “lowest-ranked” prospect because you’re a kicker. Do the guys in your class get on you about that?
BH: (Laughs) I feel bad being the only “3-star.” To be honest I do feel different than everybody else. I mean, I’d like to say I can run a 40 under 4.95 but that’s just not true unlike all the other skills positions. I can’t control a game at the line of scrimmage like Wyatt Davis and Josh Myers. I certainly don’t have the agility of a recruit like Chase Young.
L10: But …
BH: But I can kick a football and I like doing it. I can also probably give some recruits a run for their money in Madden and NBA 2K (laughs). Lastly – and just for the record – I’m a quarterback at heart. I discovered I had the potential to kick at the next level and those dreams of quarterback were crushed.
I’m going to play for the best school in the nation with the best players and coaches. So being “only” a 3-star isn’t that bad.
L10: But …
BH: But yes, they mock me for it (laughs). I mean all my friends do. It’s like having a 92 all marking period and you get a 50 on your last test so you get an 89. That’s what my one buddy says. The guys in the class only give me a tough time because we want to be the best, we want to have the No. 1 class.
L10: You’re the No. 1-ranked kicker in the country but the 1,257th-ranked overall prospect. Do kickers deserve a more fair, more realistic ranking system?
BH: Well, we are people too and, in a lot of ways, pretty important to the game of football. But the ranking is not for me to decide. I do think it would be neat, though, if you saw a 4-star kicker.
L10: I mean what’s next? Different tables that you’re forced to eat at alone?
BH: I hope not! (Laughs) I’m trying to work on cutting down on weight but right now I’m 225. So maybe I could blend in with a group of receivers if I hit the weight room this offseason hard enough (laughs).
L10: What will you eat when you’re sitting there alone? What’s your go-to meal and what’s the meal you’ll miss the most from home?
BH: I’m going to miss my mom’s homemade lasagna. If I’m cooking for myself, I’m just going with a turkey sandwich.
L10: Just turkey?
BH: No, no. Mustard. Mayo. Lettuce and tomato.
L10: Maybe you order a pizza and sit in your room all alone?
BH: Yes, if it’s a pepperoni pizza. No doubt.
L10: What’s on the TV when that happens?
BH: Spongebob Squarepants. He’s always there for me when I need him.
L10: Coming from Buffalo, and having been in Columbus a few times now, what’s the one thing you’d like to bring from Buffalo with you to college?
BH: I’d bring more snow to be honest. I like kicking in it, believe it or not. Sometimes the ball is a rock but it’s fun to me.
L10: Music is such a big part of the game for a lot of guys, pregame stuff to pump them up, etc. What’s your routine? Do you think kickers get a turn controlling the iPod?
BH: I mean, I like the same music most of my teammates like, I think. But as far as pregame hype goes, I don’t have much use in them as you could imagine. Unless someone targets me on a kickoff.
L10: Then what? You get angry? Is that an underrated part of being a kicker? The chance to tee off on someone on a kickoff?
BH: It is and it isn’t. If I’m going out of my way to make a hit, I’m pretty foolish because I’m not designed to compete with blockers. But if it comes at me I won’t shy away from it. There were a few times this year I did that.
L10: I asked Marcus Williamson this, so I’ll ask you: If you could pick one woman, for one date, to do anything in the world: who, why and what?
BH: That’s tough, but … probably Alex Morgan. I’d take her to my high school field and see if she can kick a football, because she’s pretty good at soccer.
L10: Like that scene in Happy Gilmore in the ice rink?
BH: (Laughs) Yeah, kind of like that.
L10: What’s been your favorite memory about getting to know Urban Meyer and Kerry Coombs? What’s the best story you have about them?
BH: A lot of people tell me I look like Urban Meyer. A ton of people asked me if I knew that when I committed.
But, with him? When I was on an unofficial visit, he understood the balance part of the kicking game and it was awesome to talk to him about it. I was very impressed by him. With Coach Coombs, I remember when I was there one time kicking for him and he was throwing stuff at me.
L10: Ohio State was the only school you visited during your recruitment. What’s going to be the toughest adjustment for you when you get to campus? Are you looking forward to having Sean Nuernberger around to learn from?
BH: Yeah, I had other interests but Ohio State was my first offer and dream school. Academics shouldn’t be a major problem, so probably just getting a good practice routine down with stretching and recovery and stuff like that. It’ll be nice to have Sean there. I know we will have each other’s backs and at the end of the day it’s a unit no matter who starts. Also, I’m basically 100 percent German so we have that in common. I went to the German Village in Columbus with my mom and dad after the spring game. I loved it. That’s another reason I chose Ohio State.
L10: Final question: What’s something about you that will surprise people? What other skills or athletic abilities should folks look for?
BH: It’s OK, I love interviews, they make my life eventful (laughs). They’re the best thing about being recruited. Anyway, yeah, I can dunk a basketball. I have a photographic memory, so if you give me like a vocabulary sheet or short passage I’ve never seen for a minute or two and then test me I wouldn’t do bad. I’m working on a few dunks, that’s why I’m cutting down a bit and going really harder on lower body this year. Not playing basketball was the worst thing about recruiting (laughs). For the record, I’m no (Alabama punter) JK Scott. It’d take me about a year to do a Rubik’s cube.