COLUMBUS, Ohio — Blake Haubeil is a polite kid, the type who will answer your question with a “yes sir” or a “no ma’am.”
So when I told him that I thought kickers deserved more love in recruiting rankings on Friday’s “Inside the Shoe” Ohio State podcast, the Buckeyes 2017 signee predictably laughed off my suggestion of a 4- or 5-star specialist.
“Everybody’s talented in their own way,” Haubeil, a 3-star prospect per 247Sports, offered diplomatically. “Star rankings don’t matter too much when it comes to your production on the field. … I think I can help the Buckeyes win a few games and I’m excited to see what the future holds.”
But no, Blake, I’m being serious. Given the effect a kicker can have on a given game, shouldn’t some be eligible for higher than a 3-star ranking — something no specialist has accomplished since 2008?
If Haubeil lives up to his billing as 247ports’ top-ranked kicker in the 2017 class, won’t his impact on the Ohio State program exceed that of a standard 3-star prospect?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately — not just with kickers, but with other positions, as well. After a little bit of prying, it turned out I’m not alone.
“I’ve looked at that a few times and from a few different perspectives,” Haubeil admitted. “I absolutely think the argument is there that kickers could be 5-stars because they have such a huge impact on the game. There’s an argument they could be 3-stars and there’s an argument they could be in between and be 4-stars. It would be neat to see a kicker have a 4-star ranking because they do have an impact on the game as a whole.”
— Hendrik Haubeil (@HHaubeil) February 19, 2017
No one knows that better than Buckeye fans.
After all, it was just last November that a poor kicking performance almost cost Ohio State its most important game of the season. Facing Michigan with a spot in the College Football Playoff on the line, it took two overtimes for the Buckeyes to beat the Wolverines, thanks in large part to a pair of missed field goals in regulation — including a 21-yarder in the fourth quarter — by OSU kicker Tyler Durbin.
Ohio State would survive but go on to lose to Clemson 31-0 in the Fiesta Bowl — with Durbin missing his two field-goal attempts in that game.
Watching from home in Buffalo, N.Y., Haubeil felt Durbin’s pain.
“I’m just sitting there saying, ‘The kid’s had a great season.’ I’ve met Tyler and he’s a really nice guy,” Haubeil said. “And you know what? He’s trying his best. I don’t think there was any kick bigger than (against) ‘That Team Up North’ when he made it to send it to OT. That takes a lot of guts after you’ve missed one or two earlier.
“I’ve gone through that too in high school games. Obviously it’s not as big of a stage as he was on. But it takes a lot of guts to go back in there and perform in front of millions of eyes watching you both in front of you and on TV of course. So I have a ton of respect for him, but it did hurt watching that for sure.”
— Blake Haubeil (@BlakeHaubeil) February 1, 2017
With Durbin’s eligibility having expired, Haubeil could become his successor. Junior kicker Sean Nuernberger, however, is also returning from an injury, so it remains possible — even likely, Haubeil concedes — that the Buckeyes’ 2017 signee could take a ‘grayshirt,’ meaning he’d wait until 2018 to go on scholarship.
But regardless of when his college career officially begins, the 6-foot-3, 200-pound Haubeil plans on bringing plenty of power to the Ohio State kicking game. His longest field goal make in a high school game was 61 yards. He claims he’s made kicks as long as 73 yards in practice.
“Some people don’t believe me or find it hard to believe,” he says of his phantom 73-yarder, which occurred on a day he says he forgot to bring his iPad to film himself. “If we get to a situation where we’re on the opposite 45-yard line, I’d love to hit a long one. I think that would be something I could potentially bring to the table.”
If that indeed winds up occurring, Haubeil will have well out-kicked his 3-star ranking.