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Penn State Football: Ficken Ready For Next Step, Whatever That Might Be

by on March 20, 2015 4:00 PM

Sam Ficken can only kick a football so many times before the draft finally gets here.

But yet again on Thursday afternoon the former Nittany Lion star stood on the turf of Holuba Hall banging in 45 yard field goals over and over again. By the time nearly every one of his former teammates had left the building only then did the NFL scouts make their way over to his end of the building. 

At the NFL Combine it was the same then, Ficken punching home kick after kick with NFL executives behind the uprights. If anything, Ficken's big game kicks prepared him for the NFL as much as they prepared him for the stress of looking a possible future employer in the eye as he auditioned for the job.

Ficken knows the reality of the situation though. Kickers are not exactly first round picks in the making. A team only carries so many and once you find a good kicker you rarely let him go. So the openings are limited and the process requires patience. 

Fortunately, that's an emotion Ficken has plenty of practice with.

"Not every kid gets to be in the position that I'm in. So I'm making sure to be thankful for that," Ficken said after his workout on Thursday.

"That's the nature of the position, I think last year two kickers got drafted and after Week three neither of them were in the league and there were three rookies who made it. So drafted or underrated, obviously I'd love to be drafted if that's not the case it's not going to ruin my day, ruin my hopes or anything like that."

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It's not hard to imagine Ficken finding a home as a free agent this summer and he ought to succeed at that level as well. Unlike the rigors of making the move to the NFL for other positions, kicking is kicking. You can change techniques for improved results, but the leap isn't nearly as rigorous.

It's a golf swing with your leg. A change here a tweak there, all trying to get the most out of the motion.

"Last year I started with seven steps back and three to the left," Ficken said of his kickoff routine. "Now I'm eight steps back and five and a half to the left and now basically every kick is five or more yards into the end zone."

In Ficken's wake stand 13 punters and kickers on Penn State's roster. And after former Nittany Lion, Robbie Gould helped Ficken through his career, now even sharing agents, the NFL hopeful will do the same, paying it forward for whoever takes over his old job.

"I'll be at some practices and I want to see those guys succeed so I'm there for whenever they need me."

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