COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State kicker signee Blake Haubeil knows the challenge that awaits him, and he appears well-suited to meet it.
Haubeil and his Ohio State Class of 2017 peers are just two weeks away from moving to Columbus and beginning their college careers. That transition is tough at any position, but for kickers it also means narrower goal posts and less time to execute the snap, hold and kick before defenders close in.
Over the past few months, the Buffalo (N.Y.) Canisius 3-star product has been working to negate those challenges. He’s been hitting the weight room harder than ever and now measures 6-foot-4, 230 pounds.
His sessions with kicking coach Sam Watts have helped sharpen his accuracy and lower the time it takes to get off a kick. Haubeil stayed home the weekend of the Ohio State spring game because he got a chance to work out at the Buffalo Bills indoor facility.
“It was amazing,” he said. “Even in April, we were still getting some snow so it had been tough to get out on the field. Being in there for three hours and being surrounded by some other good kickers was awesome.
“There was a CFL kicker there and some free agents. That atmosphere and environment allows you to see where you stand. Being there also helped a ton with my kickoffs. In the 30-degree weather it’s kind of tough to tell where you’re at.”
Haubeil was rated as the No. 2 kicker in the Class of 2017, having demonstrated great accuracy and power. As a junior he drilled a 61-yard field goal in a high school game, and he has the ability to go even longer. What Ohio State wants most, though, is a player who can reliably execute kicks from 40 yards and in, and Haubeil has been excelling in that aspect.
“I feel like the last three weeks have been the most consistent I’ve ever seen him, and he’s been working the hardest he ever has,” Watts said. “His consistency is dialed in. Now he just has to spend time this summer with his snapper and the holder, Drue Chrisman, to get the timing down.”
Haubeil can be a tough self-critic, but he agrees with his coach’s assessment.
“I definitely feel the same way,” he said. “People are asking me how my kicking is going, and I’m telling them that I’m at a different level than I’ve ever been before. Physically, everything is clicking. I’m better than I’ve ever been. We had a few things this offseason that we wanted to work on, and I’ve gotten them all down.”
Whether Haubeil wins the field goal or kickoff duties remains to be seen, but Ohio State should be in good shape in the kicking game if he keeps up his current form.