COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State kicker signee Blake Haubeil is kicking better than ever, and it couldn’t come at a better time.
Haubeil and the rest of Ohio State’s Class of 2017 members who didn’t enroll early will arrive in Columbus on Sunday, ready to begin their Buckeye careers. Some face a difficult path to the field in 2017, while others will have a shot to contribute right away.
For Haubeil, his current situation is probably a mix of the two. Kicker Sean Nuernberger started for Ohio State’s national championship team in 2014, but he was beat out by a walk-on transfer in 2015 and then missed 2016 because of injuries.
He’s feeling better now, though, and he plans on taking back his old job in 2017.
“I definitely feel like I’m on my way,” Nuernberger told Land of 10 in April. “Injury-wise, I feel 100 percent. There’s no pain, there’s nothing holding me back. I really feel like I’m on track.”
Haubeil is going to get his shot, though, and Ohio State has shown in the past that it has no allegiance to experience. The best kicker is going to play, especially after the headaches the kicking game has caused in the last two seasons. Haubeil enters Ohio State as the No. 2 kicker in the Class of 2017 according to the 247Sports rankings, and he has his eye on contributing immediately.
“I’ve talked with Coach (Kerry) Coombs and I’m going to go in there and compete and let the coaches decide from there,” he said. “At the end of the day, the goal has been and the goal will always be to be the starting kicker at Ohio State in this first year. That should be everyone’s mentality at every position. I’m excited to work with Sean because I know he has a great work ethic. But at the end of the day, I’m trying to win the job and get on the field in my first year.
“I just want to compete and try to be the best kicker I can be and let everything else go from there. I’ve been working really hard this offseason to try to get better and I’m very excited for this summer and fall camp.”
His kicking coach, Sam Watts, told Land of 10 that Haubeil has looked great in recent training sessions and is ready for Ohio State. He also complimented Haubeil’s approach to the mental side of kicking, which he said is far beyond most kids his age.
That should come in handy with a competition looming. Haubeil has never had to fight for a starting job before, but his coach thinks he’s ready.
“It will be his first challenge,” Watts said. “He’s always been the starter, all four years of high school. I told him to not worry about what Nuernberger is doing and focus on his own kicks and to respect Sean because Sean is a national champion and established kicker. Blake will have to go earn it.
“There’s no way to know how he’ll handle it but I think he’s prepared.”