University of Toledo’s Jeremiah Detmer is not your typical collegiate placekicker.
In winter conditioning drills, the 5-foot-8, 170-pound Detmer regularly beats receivers and defensive backs to the finish line.
Once a week, he leads a Christian-based ministry group for high school students of Northview.
Growing up in suburban Columbus, the Hilliard native and his snowboarding buddies enjoyed navigating the terrain park at a nearby ski resort. Detmer still attacks slopes once or twice a winter.
“I was a little thrill-seeker,” he said.
For his next trick, the 2013 Mid-American Conference special teams player of the year is attempting perhaps his greatest challenge. At the behest of his head coach, Detmer aims this spring to be a team leader, a position of influence typically forbidden to someone who might go all season avoiding contact from an opponent.
“When J.D. speaks, everybody in our program — coaches, trainers, players — listen,” Rockets coach Matt Campbell said. “How he lives his life, how he carries himself in practice, the attention to detail he puts into his game, is what we all hope to accomplish as coaches and players.”
It is believed Toledo, an incubator of kicking and punting talent over the years, has never had a captain who played primarily on special teams. A team vote will be held in fall camp, and Campbell believes the senior who has made 87 percent of his field goals since arriving on campus “is gonna command a lot of respect.”
“He’s one of the best leaders we’ve had,” Campbell added.
Of credentials, Detmer has few peers. The Lou Groza Award semifinalist in 2013 tied the school record with 23 straight makes and has made 36 of his last 37 attempts. A wayward 35-yard attempt against Eastern Washington in September ended his streak as fifth best in NCAA annals. Detmer enters his senior streak riding another streak, this of 13 straight makes.
“It makes me feel a lot better whenever we don’t score touchdowns,” offensive lineman Greg Mancz said. “His personality and his charisma show who he is. You wanna follow a guy like that.”
Detmer made 19 of 20 tries and drilled a season-long 47-yarder against Navy. His extra point in double overtime that mid-October afternoon delivered the Rockets a 45-44 victory.
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Detmer’s 87.3 percent career field goal rate ranks first in the MAC, exceeding former Rockets Alex Steigerwald (82.8) and Jason Robbins (82.6), who sit in second and third.
Half of Detmer’s 76 kickoffs in 2013 resulted in a touchback.
He enters his final season facing new challenges. Gone are two unsung mainstays in the kicking game — holder Vince Penza and snapper Matt Wall. Detmer will kick behind holder Nick Ellis and snapper Zach Lozar or Brad Spelman.
To fulfill Campbell’s request for him to be a leader, Detmer is adhering to the saying, "No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care. "
To that end, he says, “I think guys know I care about them.”
“It’s always good when you do well on the field, but there are guys in every sport in every college across the country who do well but don’t have the respect of their teammates for other reasons,” Detmer said.
“I think I have the respect of my teammates regardless of what I’ve done on the field.”