Sam Ficken Ranked Top Kicker for 2015 Draft By ESPN
We’ve written at length on this site about Sam Ficken’s incredible journey from a nightmarish day in Charlottesville, Va. to a heroic performance three years later in Bronx, N.Y. to win the 2014 Pinstripe Bowl and cap off a storybook career. Now, having kicked his last field goal as a member of the Penn State football team to give the Nittany Lions their first bowl win in nearly half a decade, Ficken will depart as one of the most inspiring comeback stories in team history.
Though his time on the field is officially over, Ficken is still making headlines as he prepares for his journey into (gasp) the National Football League. If you asked any rational football fan after the Virginia game debacle if he/she would let Ficken kick for their favorite NFL team, you would’ve been laughed out of the building. And yet, here we are.
Stunningly, 859 days, 35 games, 105 extra points, 52 field goals, and three game-winning kicks since that fateful four-missed field goal game, Ficken is poised to do the unthinkable and join the professional ranks following a roller coaster of a career at Penn State.
According to ESPN, Ficken is the top kicking prospect for the 2015 NFL Draft.
As a senior, Ficken nailed 4-of-4 field goals, including the 36-yard game-winner, to help Penn State edge Central Florida 26-24 in Dublin, Ireland in the Lions’ first game of the season. Following that game, he continued to build an impressive résumé, connecting on 20-of-25 field goals to finish the season third in the Big Ten and 16th nationally in field goal percentage (82.8 percent). Of his five misses, only one made it past the line of scrimmage, as Ficken saw four kicks blocked.
Ficken departs University Park with a handful of school records, including his single-season record of field goals made at 24, a total he extended with his game-tying, 44-yard field goal with 20 seconds remaining vs. Boston College. Along with his record-tying 54-yard field goal in the rain against Kent State in 2013, the finance major ended his career No. 2 on the career field goals made list (54) and No. 4 on the career scoring list (271).
For many, seeing Ficken top the charts on any list commending kickers was an afterthought when he was struggling to find consistency as a soft-spoken sophomore from Indiana. Today, he’s the best kicking prospect in the nation. Congrats, Sam.
Photo: Bobby Chen/Onward State