the study of the kicking components within sports

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Draft Preview: Sam Ficken

Among the kickers eligible for this year's NFL draft, or signing as an undrafted free agent thereafter, is Penn State's Sam Ficken. He ranks in the top ten in the majority of the various draft rankings.

Excerpts from Ficken's profile page on the Nittany Lions' website:

2014 Senior Season
  • Ended his career No. 2 on the career field goals made list (54) and No. 4 on the career scoring list (271)
  • Ficken kicked the extra point that Boston College could not to give the Nittany Lions (7-6) a 31-30 overtime win in the Pinstripe Bowl... Ficken sent the game into OT with a 45-yard field goal with 20 seconds left in regulation and won it with his extra point. 
  • Nailed 4-of-4 field goals, including the 36-yard game-winner, to help Penn State edge Central Florida 26-24 in Dublin, Ireland
2013 Junior Season
  • Broke the Penn State record for consecutive field goals made, with 15 straight converted attempts, a streak that started on Oct. 27, 2012 against Ohio State and ended on Sept. 14, 2013 against UCF, when his 57-yard attempt was just short. 
  • Ficken's 54-yard conversion in the rain in the Kent State game marked the longest field goal by a Penn State player in home game history. It was the longest Penn State field goal in 34 years and tied for fourth-longest in school history.
  • He also handled the kickoff duties, with 18 touchbacks among his 67 kicks and a 60.9 average.
  • After a three-field goal effort in the season-opening win over Syracuse at MetLife Stadium, Ficken earned Big Ten Special Teams Player-of-the-Week for the second time in his career. He connected on all three field goal attempts and both extra points in the win over the Orange, including a then-career-long field goal of 46 yards in the fourth quarter.
  • In the win over Illinois, Ficken kicked the game-tying field goal from 35 yards out with 41 seconds left, while also converting all three of his extra point opportunities.
2012 Sophomore Season
  • Ficken ended the year with his first collegiate game-winning kick, a 37-yard field goal for a thrilling 24-21 Senior Day overtime win over Wisconsin. He finished the season by connecting on his last 10 field goal attempts, including a 3-of-3 effort against the Badgers to earn Big Ten Special Teams Player-of-the-Week accolades for the first time in his career.
  • He handled all of the kickoff duties, with 68 kickoffs for a 61.9-yard average and 27 touchbacks.
  • Ficken delivered a strong game at No. 18 Nebraska, going 3-of-3 on field goal attempts (27, 38, 35 yards) in windy conditions, which included getting debris blown in his eye during pre-game warm-ups. Ficken hit three field goals in a game for the first time in his career against the Huskers, his 38-yarder was a season-long and five of his six kickoffs were touchbacks.
2011 Freshman Season
  • Ficken made his Nittany Lion debut in the season-opener with Indiana State, connecting on his one PAT attempt and kicking off once. 
  • He missed his first career field goal attempt, from 49 yards, at Temple. Ficken made his first career field goal, from 43 yards, on his second career attempt and kicked off twice in the win over Eastern Michigan. 
High School
  • Ficken was named first-team Associated Press Class 5A all-state for coach Mark Hoffman at Valparaiso High School. He also was a member of the all-area team. A former soccer player, he made 13 field goals as a senior, including a school-record 52-yard kick. He also recorded 45 touchbacks on kickoffs during his senior season.

College Stats:
2014: 24 of 29 (82.8%) FGs; 28 of 28 PATs; 100 points
2013: 15 of 23 (65.2%) FGs; 41 of 42 PATs; 86 points
2012: 14 of 21 (67.7%) FGs; 39 of 41 PATs; 81 points
2011: 1 of 2 (50.0%) FGs; 1 of 1 PATs; 4 points

Last month after Penn State's Pro Day, Ficken discussed the NFL Scouting Combine and the upcoming draft:
"Those big game moments; had a ton of those this past season and throughout my career, and then going to the Combine, the coaches sit directly behind the uprights in the stands. There's about 60 of them behind the uprights, they all watch you kick, and all of that kind of provide a good background for this day. Pressure wise, it wasn't too bad....

I'll take any chance I can get. Not every kid is in the situation I'm in. That's the nature of the position. I think last year two kickers got drafted; after Week 3, none of them were in the league, and there were three rookies in the year. I'd love to be drafted, but if not that's not going to ruin my day, because I know I'll have a very good opportunity in camp."

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