It was hard for me to get into the NFL. No one knew who I was.
But I’ve always known what my potential was, so it’s nice to finally see it match my production.
This season has been a whirlwind. In Seattle this summer, I didn’t get a lot of opportunities in the preseason, but I knew I was kicking well. I figured I’d get another opportunity, but I didn’t know how quick it would come. I thought I’d have to wait until the end of the preseason or midseason. I’m very thankful for the Jets.
I had my car up in Seattle, got picked up off waivers, drove to Boise where my brother in-law lives, dropped my car off and flew back to Scottsdale. The next day I took a redeye, came out here and went straight to practice.
I never really sat back at and looked at what was going on. I kind of just kept going day-by-day, kick-by-kick, which has been my mantra all season. It really helped me get through a big turnaround going from the West Coast to the East Coast on a new team in the middle of training camp with only two preseason games left.
After being out of the league for 10 weeks last season, my mindset changed. I don’t really worry about my job anymore because I know what I’m capable of. I’m a very short-term guy, which my wife hates. She’s always trying to plan long-term.
I like to take it one day at a time, set what my mindset is for the day and crush that. Whether it’s the first kick, a game-winner or an important kick to put us up three or tie the game, I just stick to my routine.
It’s been working well for me this year, but it’s been a very long road that’s taken me from Chula Vista, CA to Poughkeepsie, NY to the Arena Football League, San Diego, Mobile, Jacksonville, Seattle and now New York.
I was a late bloomer in high school and was actually planning to go to junior college before Marist called. It’s funny how things work out. A lot of guys get heavily recruited to big-time schools coming out of high school. I wasn’t.
When it comes to kicking, it’s either you can put them through or you can’t.
Sometimes you wish you went to a big-time FBS school like Alabama or somewhere in the SEC, but I had a blast at Marist and in the end I made it to the NFL, so I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
I didn’t even get a sniff after college, which is fair because I was very raw. I had decent technique, I just needed some tweaks here and there. I love Marist, but we didn’t have a special teams coordinator. I had taken a couple of lessons in high school, but nothing serious, so I was just on my own.
After college, I went back to San Diego and ended up with the San Jose SaberCats in the Arena Football League, but a lot of guys who kick in Arena get stuck there.
I wanted to give the NFL one more shot.
I started training with Michael Husted, who kicked in the NFL for nine years, in August 2014. That’s where things started to turn for me. I didn’t realize how close I really was. I worked my butt off in college, but I didn’t always know what I was doing. I just knew how to work hard.
I used to look up videos online. I didn’t have the structure that Michael provided. I worked with him for six months and I started to understand why I was missing kicks and what my body was doing. We’d kick three times a week and I’d valet cars at night to make money and be able to work out in the morning.
Michael always had a free agent combine in San Diego, but that was the first year he was going to do it in Mobile, AL during the Senior Bowl since all the scouts were already going to be there. Talk about timing. It was supposed to be for guys that had workouts with NFL teams or been in camps.
But I kicked better than a lot of the NFL guys working with Michael, so he invited me. I crushed it. That’s where the Jaguars saw me. They brought me in for a workout and I battled with Derek Dimke in rookie minicamp. Won that job. Then battled in training camp with Josh Scobee, who had been there for 11 years. Won that job.
Even though Michael helped me so much with technique, the best part for me was kicking with NFL guys, seeing my ball compared to theirs. That’s when I knew I could do it.
Now as we hit the coldest month of the season, I’m excited to kick in the conditions when the ball doesn’t go as far. I take it more like a challenge. Let me show I can be the same kicker whether it’s 85 in Miami or up here where it’s 35 with winds over 20 miles per hour.
Like I tell myself every Monday no matter if I missed one or went 7-for-7 the day before: Let’s have a better week than I did last week.
Start strong and finish stronger.