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Penn State Football: Ficken Not Yet Giving Up On NFL Dream

by on March 22, 2016 2:30 PM

It has been over a year since Sam Ficken last sent a meaningful kick through the uprights.

But a day hasn't gone by since he last thought about playing in the NFL.

So as he laced up his shoes yet again last week at Penn State's Pro Day, he wasn't just kicking footballs for scouts, he was trying to finally get over the hump and realize a dream a decade in the making.

The day before Ficken was working out in Phoenix, hoping to catch some eyes there. His only miss, a 67-yard bomb that hit the upright and bounced out. Everything else was good. His shortest kick at Pro Day hung in the air for over four seconds and still managed to go eight yards deep into the endzone.

"It's a tough job to break into," Ficken said standing outside the Lasch Building, bag in hand. "Honestly there are about 50 guys who can kick in the league and there are 32 spots, so what happens to those other 18 guys who can probably do it. My goal is to get into camp and into preseason and do really well and then anything can happen at that point. Just staying with it."

Just staying with it has done a lot for Ficken, from his well documented misses against Virginia to becoming something of a folk hero in Penn State circles over the course of a career. Few kickers have been as well loved, even fewer have had the benefit of time to turn their careers around. Now he just wants a shot.

With the new extra point rules setting the PAT back to 32-yards there was some hope Ficken could break into the league that way. Even as the fairly local Pittsburgh Steelers struggled on special teams Ficken sent out a handful of tweets, lobbying for a shot to show them what he could do.

He even made phone calls. but nobody answered.

"I think at the start of the season it took a lot of notice," Ficken said of the extra points. "But as you looked at it as the season tailed off there you didn't see many misses after Week 5 or 6. You can hit an extra point pretty terrible and it will still go in, but a 32-yarder you can't hit terrible. So it kind of took out that room for error and there was a lot of turnover the first couple of weeks, there wasn't really much after that."

"I think due to the nature of the team that it was and how close it is I thought there could be some traction," He added when asked about his tweets directed towards the Steelers. "Called multiple, multiple times, but they don't like you they don't like you."

So Ficken continues to wait. He works out at least five days a week, sometimes six when his Saturday is open. The rest of his time is spent working for Merrill Lynch on a part-time basis three days a week.

And he knows the clock is ticking, no matter how many clutch kicks he has on the resume or how much longer his kickoffs have become, sooner rather than later the opportunity will pass him by for good.

But until that day comes, he'll keep plugging away. And that mentality has gotten him pretty far already.

"I'll do what I can control and keep going at it until I feel like there are guys out there better than me," Ficken said. "Until then I've got my goal in mind and I'm sticking with it."



Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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