Penn State Football: Can a Scheduled Midseason Tryout Save the Kicking Game?
There is no doubt that sophomore kicker Sam Ficken would like another shot at any of his four missed field goals in the Nittany Lions' 17-16 loss to Virginia on Saturday.
And he also had an extra point partially blocked.
Each could have eventually sealed the game for Penn State in Charlottesville, Va., and sent the Nittany Lions home to Happy Valley with the first win of the Bill O'Brien era.
As Penn State struggles with injury and depth issues, every available point becomes increasingly important as the Nittany Lions look to claw through their 46 remaining games under NCAA sanction.
Penn State currently has three punters (Reynolds Parthemore, Joe Baker and Alex Butterworth) and three kickers (Sam Ficken, Kevin DiSanto, and Matt Marcincin) on the roster, but a scheduled open tryout for several sports, including football on Sept. 19, could give O'Brien one last chance to add a crucial piece to the puzzle.
Josh Clothiaux, a 2012 graduate of State College Area High School, is a potential answer to O'Brien's kicking woes and the 2012 Pennsylvania Football News first-team Class AAAA all-state honoree, plans on making the walk from his dorm over to Holuba Hall.
"It would be a dream come true," Clothiaux said. "I grew up watching State College kids like Collin Wagner play for Penn State, it would be amazing to have that chance."
John Infante of the Bylaw Blog says a potential walk-on's biggest issue would come from the NCAA.
"He still has to go through the Eligibility Center, that would be the longest delay," Infante said. "Wednesday (Sept. 19) is probably too close to play the next game though."
Clothiaux won't be the only one looking for a spot on the Nittany Lions' roster. Roughly 40 potential players attended the Sept. 5 meeting about the upcoming tryouts. As O'Brien looks to develop a walk-on program mirroring the likes of Nebraska's, whih has developed multiple walk-ons into starters, a few names might just get the call in the coming weeks.
If picked, Clothiaux would join former Texas Tech kicker Matt Williams in the ranks of walk-on kicker turned starter. Williams entered a promotional contest, nailing a 30-yard field goal that caught the attention of then head coach Mike Leach. Williams went 2-for-3 in Texas Tech's 39-33 victory over Texas two weeks later.