A confident kicker is a weapon in college football.
So far this season, University of Toledo junior Jameson Vest is proving that to be the case.
At 11 for 12 on field goals this season, Vest has been a security blanket for Toledo when drives have stalled. Through four games, he has a four-field goal game and two three-field goal games. His 2.75 field goals per game is the top mark in the Mid-American Conference and ranks second in the nation.
For his efforts, Vest has twice been named MAC West division special teams player of the week.
“I’d say my confidence is high,” Vest said. “But more importantly I’m just looking to help my team score and get us on the board.”
Toledo fans may remember the missed field goal from Vest at the end of the Camellia Bowl against Appalachian State last season, and Vest hasn’t forgotten about that either.
“The kick from the Camellia Bowl is something I needed personally,” Vest said. “It’s a lot of motivation, and I never want to let my team down like that again. I think I’m at a point where that won’t ever happen again.”
UT coach Jason Candle said Vest has rebounded nicely from last year, when he was 13 for 19 on field goals.
“He’s really bounced strong from last season,” Candle said. “I think he’s really confident, and I think he has done a really good job in the offseason of producing some really good reasons to be confident, because he worked hard at it. He’s really committed to being really good and perfecting his craft. I’m proud of his effort and what he put in during the offseason.”
For kickers, routine and practice habits are often important, and Candle says Vest’s routine and demeanor doesn’t change day to day, even if he has missed some kicks recently.
“The nice thing is he doesn’t change,” Candle said. “He’s the same guy every day, if he is making kicks or if he has missed a couple. His routine is very rigid and very detailed, and he’s very disciplined when it comes to that. When you mix that with really good talent, the results are usually pretty good.”
Vest was an accomplished quarterback in high school at Our Lady of Mercy in Peachtree City, Ga. As a senior, he passed for 1,058 yards, ran for 998 yards, and scored 26 touchdowns.
He said his experience at quarterback in high school has helped him stay engaged with the game on the sideline.
“It keeps me involved in the game and I get excited about the game,” Vest said. “I’m not just sitting there and lollygagging or anything. I’m involved as much as possible.”
Candle said that Vest’s confidence in himself rubs off on the coaching staff and leads to trust in big situations. That was the case when Vest calmly and confidently nailed the game-winning, 33-yard field goal in a 54-51 victory against Tulsa at the Glass Bowl.
“He’s earned the trust of us,” Candle said. “We’ve had times where we were probably unsure in situations what we wanted to do. His confidence in himself throughout the week of practice makes you more confident as a coach, where you can put him in there and put him in positions to be successful.
“It’s not a situation where we have ever not been confident in him, it’s just that sometimes the score of the game or the situation in the game dictates that you go for it or you try to score a touchdown. He’s been a security blanket for us and he is playing at a very high level and we are going to need him to continue to play at a high level as the season goes on.”
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