Nugent struts passed the dismantled Dolphin CB
Soon after the New York Jets completed their 2006 season, Mike Nugent returned to the Ohio State University. Nugent, who owns or shares 22 Buckeye kicking records, got to work on completing his undergraduate degree in Columbus.
"I am keeping it interesting," he said in a recent telephone conversation with newyorkjets.com. "I am a Logistics Management major in our business school. I am taking two logistic classes and one finance class. I have never studied so much in my whole life."
Nugent, who turned 25 on March 2, jokes that he is no longer a recognizable face on campus. Now an NFL veteran of two seasons, the 5'9", 182-pound placekicker is just another student.
"I am not going to lie to you – I feel like I am being phased out," he said. "When I was in classes last year, people would ask how things were going and how football was. But people don't really recognize you anymore when you have been out for a couple of years."
Fortunately for Nugent, Ohio State's academic calendar provided him an opportunity to come back and inch closer to his degree.
"They are on quarters. Since we have some time off from practice and can go home and kind of take a break, it actually works out for me where I can go for about a whole quarter," he said. "It is just about 10 weeks and one week of finals, so it's about 10.5, 11 weeks. I can get a whole quarter in and not miss any time for anything."
The Centerville, Ohio native has temporarily moved within shouting distance of campus. Nugent found someone to live with who shared a similar responsibility at the Big 10 powerhouse.
"I actually have a buddy – Dan Stultz - who is one of my best friends. He was the kicker at Ohio State for four years before I was here," Nugent says. "I came in and kind of replaced him when he was done. He has a house five minutes from campus. I just put a futon in there and am staying there."
Class is challenging but Nugent never has the Jets far from his mind. He misses being around the guys back in New York and always starts his days with a morning lift.
"I load my classes up on Tuesdays and Thursdays," he said. "I lift every morning around 6:00 a.m. or 7:00 a.m., go to class, do some homework and then basically go to bed and get ready for the next day."
Nugent still has access to the football weight room. He was a four-year letterman and a member of Ohio State's National Championship team in 2002.
"Jim Tressel – the head coach here – has a rule where you can't work out here unless you have your degree or you are working towards you degree," he said. "It is really a good example for current players and guys who have already finished up. He is very welcoming letting people in the weight room."
As a paid professional, Nugent owns a different philosophy than many college athletes. Football is the top priority and then school comes second.
"I am still in that frame of mind where I work out first and then I go to school," he said. "It is not the best attitude when you are in college, but my number one job is football. I focus on football first, and then I start studying."
And there is a lot to study. Nugent, who says he hopes to play until he is 50-years-old, will be prepared with the Logistics degree once his NFL career is complete.
"It is really about transporting, importing/exporting things nationally and internationally, basically it is about how this product gets from here to there," Nugent explained. "It is something you don't think about. With everything you buy, I think 16-19 percent of the price of the product came from the logistics. It is something you don't realize, but everything you use had to have been shipped at one point from here or there."
Once Nugent successfully completes this quarter, he will be in need of two more classes to earn his degree. He is attempting to find professors for independent study options, so Nugent can continue to work upon his spring arrival in New York. Spring workouts will soon commence here at Weeb Ewbank Hall and a bigger Nugent, who connected on 89% (24 of 27) of his regular season attempts, will return.
"I am basically just taking a break from kicking. I am working really hard in the weight room," he said. "I am trying to gain some weight; I have gained about five to six pounds so far in the last month. I am probably not going to do much kicking – maybe a little bit the last couple of weeks I'm here. But probably I will keep lifting, and then just start kicking when I come back to New York in March."
While in Columbus, Nugent still visits the Easy Living Deli, an establishment owned by former Ohio State kicker Vlade Janakievski, on Fridays. It is there on Lane Avenue where he orders a turkey sandwich dubbed "the Nuge."
"It's just a turkey sandwich," he said. "It is on like a sub role. I go there every Friday. I went there every Friday when I was here, and I just wanted to keep the tradition going."
So Nugent isn't completely removed from college life, but he is a career man who spends his free time with his family and girlfriend. On Sunday afternoon, Mike got together with his younger brother Kevin and watched Ohio State and Wisconsin battle in basketball. Kevin Nugent played soccer at Ohio State and scored 17 goals during his four-year career.
"I really take this opportunity to kind of relax a lot and kind of hang out with my family," Mike said. "My girlfriend, who actually lives with me back in New York, is back in school at Dayton now. I hang out with her as much as possible and see my family a lot. I really take the offseason unbelievably serious and am not living the college scene anymore – class scene yes but not the night life."