CLEMSON — His Ohio State career ended before Blake Haubeil knew it.
When he walked off the field after the College Football Playoff semifinals, the kicker knew what was next: A trip to the national championship game in Miami.
Except he never made it to Miami. He never even took a flight down to Florida as a COVID-19 positive test kept him sidelined in Columbus. Despite the painful, lonely end to the season, Haubeil felt his body of work was strong enough and declared for the NFL Draft. Although a senior, the NCAA’s blanket eligibility waiver would’ve allowed him to come back for a final season.
“It was really really hard for me to sit out on that one,” he said after his Pro Day last week. “But, you know, it was being a supportive teammate throughout the week, had full confidence in the specialists and the guys. Not being there was tough, but at the same time it’s just, it’s a little bit of adversity.
“I’m very confident decision coming out this year.”
Like his former special teams teammate, Drue Chrisman, Haubeil isn’t certain what his future looks like at the next level. Only 21 kickers have been drafted since 2010. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has him listed as the eighth-best kicker or punter available in April’s NFL Draft.
A top-five kicker in the class of 2017, he was one of the earlier commitments in the class for the Buckeyes, committing in July 2015. Growing up in Buffalo, Haubeil was an Ohio State fan and dreamed of winning a national championship.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound kicker never fully lived out that dream, but he proved capable of hitting big-game field goals at Ohio State. The kicker never attempted a game winner, but his 55-yard field goal in the final seconds of the first half against Northwestern in 2019 showed his coaches they could count on him to deliver when needed. He kept the Buckeyes in the 2020 Big Ten Championship Game, too, with successful 41-yard and 43-yard kicks in the first half. A lingering groin issue held him out of two games last season, but Haubeil finished his career with Ohio State with an 80-percent field-goal conversion rate
And if NFL teams are looking for a kicker who can deliver onside kicks, Haubeil can show them the film. He converted a pooch kick to Chris Olave against Maryland in 2019. Film review showed the opportunity for Ohio State to get the ball over the coverage team, which Haubeil did to perfection as the play looked more like a pass than a kick.
“I think the biggest thing for a kicker, and something that I work on constantly, is consistency,” he said. “Being as consistent as possible, consistent swing, follow through, mindset so you get consistent results. That’s been one thing I think teams look for in kickers and something that I’m constantly working on attempting to perfect.”
The biggest compliment a kicker can be given is they’re not talked about often. No team wants to be talking about their kicker. If they are than the odds are strong that the position is a point of concern.
Blake Haubeil earned the compliment in Columbus, and he can earn it again in the NFL.