Some college football coaches prefer to not offer scholarships to kickers, opting to bring in an array of walk-ons and let them sort out the job.
Jeremiah Detmer faced that reality two years ago when he was ranked in the top 10 nationally at his position but attracted only one offer. By any measurement, the money the University of Toledo football program is investing in the sophomore from Hilliard, Ohio, is well spent.
After converting all five of his field goal attempts against Cincinnati — a program that recruited him but didn’t wish to pay for his education — Detmer (18-for-23) leads the country in makes and attempts and is on the verge of upending Toledo’s record book.
His 18 field goals, a total that includes an ongoing streak of 11 successful tries, are three behind Rusty Hanna’s record from 1992. With four to six games remaining, Detmer could get into the record books as early as Saturday when the 7-1 Rockets visit 1-6 Buffalo.
"It’s a huge advantage to have somebody like that, not only on extra points and field goals but on the kickoff game," coach Matt Campbell said.
Detmer, who a year ago was used strictly for long field goals and kickoffs, is perfect on extra points and has contributed 18 touchbacks. His impact spearheads significant improvements on Toledo’s special teams units.
Since the start of his field goal streak, which began after he had a 52-yarder blocked in the first half at Western Michigan, Detmer has made four times from 40 yards or more. Three of those came against Cincinnati, when the Rockets notched a signature win in spite of the offense contributing zero touchdowns.
"I try to stray away from looking at the numbers," Detmer said. "You have to have an attitude here that the next game is the most important game, and that’s how I take on the kicking duties. The next kick’s the most important, and everything behind me is old news."
A three-star recruit and the nation’s No. 9 kicker by Scout.com, Detmer had strong interest in Illinois, but "they kind of dropped off at the last minute." That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In contrast to Detmer’s busy workload, the Illini, ranked No. 115 in total offense, have attempted only seven field goals.
Detmer, who is 23 of 29 in his career, credits much of his success to other specialists on the team. Guys like snapper Matt Wall and holder Vince Penza — the first and second parts of the field goal equation — and kickers Clay Simpkins and Brad Dunavant. Few college teams employ a coach attuned to the intricate points of place kicking, thus kickers are tasked with instructing one another.
"Some people ask why kickers and punters watch film, but that’s precisely why," Detmer said. "It’s because we don’t have anybody there to watch us and really know what they’re talking about. Without all of us focusing on each other, we wouldn’t be nearly as good and successful as we are."
Contact Ryan Autullo at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6160 or on Twitter @AutulloBlade.