STILLWATER — Arlington Martin High School football coach Bob Wager had an idea. He wanted a crowd-pleasing and throwback moment for kicker Ben Grogan during the school’s Homecoming game last October.
Grogan lined up, as normal, for an extra point. But then holder Matt Waller picked up the tee, and Grogan received the direct snap and drop-kicked the ball through the uprights.
This was all caught on tape — from multiple angles — and posted on YouTube. The next day, Yahoo! Sports’ college football blog had picked it up, prompting hundreds of thousands of views.
“For a kid that doesn’t say a whole lot, he became a rock star on our campus pretty quick,” Wager said.
Make no mistake, though. Grogan, who will sign with Oklahoma State Wednesday, is not about gimmicks.
He can boom field goals from 50-plus yards away. He’s a touchback machine on kickoffs. And he can punt a little bit, too.
Sounds a whole lot like Quinn Sharp, doesn’t it?
Grogan hopes he’ll be next in OSU’s recent string of elite kickers and punters. Maybe he’ll eventually hold the triple-threat role Sharp did the past two seasons.
“He’s definitely a hard one to follow, because he did so well,” Grogan said of Sharp. “It’s cool that I will be able to kind of fill in his shoes.”
Grogan, rated as the nation’s ninth-best prospect at his position by Rivals, possesses the physical tools needed to be successful in all areas of the kicking game. He’s polished his technique. And much of his power comes from the fact that he strength trains just like a linebacker, Wager said.
But what separates Grogan, Wager said, is his mental approach, a necessity for a position that is often defined by high-pressure moments.
Teammates have nicknamed Grogan the “Ice Pirate,” because trying to ice him by calling a timeout is just elongating the game and, essentially, delaying the inevitable.
Grogan doesn’t see any difference between kicking by himself on a Sunday afternoon, during a practice or with a playoff game on the line. The process is always the same — visualization, steps, follow-through.
“I just try not to think about anything,” Grogan said. “Throughout the week, (I get) ready for the game by getting everything to a muscle memory-type thing, so I don’t have to think.”
Added Wager: “Kickers can be quirky guys, and he’s not quirky. His thought process in regards to what he does is very simple, but brilliant.”
Grogan comes from a Martin program that has produced three Division I kickers in six years, including TCU’s Jaden Oberkrom, an All-Big 12 honorable mention selection as a freshman in 2012.
Grogan overtook Oberkrom as the team’s starting kicker midway through last season.
As a senior, Grogan made six field goals in one game, including two 52-yarders and a 56-yarder, his career best. Wager insists that anytime Grogan does not record a touchback on a kickoff, it’s because he’s been instructed to try to pin the opponent inside the 15-yard line. Wager also thinks Grogan might be a better punter than kicker.
So now, Grogan will depart a high school kicking power and move on to a college kicking power, a school that within the past five seasons has produced a Ray Guy winner in Matt Fodge, a Lou Groza winner in Dan Bailey and a two-time Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year in Sharp.
Former assistant Doug Meacham was the first OSU coach to scout Grogan. But Grogan particularly liked the emphasis Cowboy head coach Mike Gundy places on special teams, and his involvement in that phase of the game.
He also considered other unique-yet-important factors for a kicker when making his decision to come to Stillwater, such as the configuration of Boone Pickens Stadium and the way the wind blows in the fall.
By Sunday, the YouTube clip of Grogan’s drop kick had reached more than 734,000 views.
By the fall, Wager expects Grogan to be kicking or punting — or both — for the Cowboys.
“I don’t care if we’re talking about kickoffs, field goals or punts,” Wager said, “when the ball comes off of this guy’s foot, you can tell by the sound of it that he knows what he’s doing. He’s good. He’s really good.
“I would be shocked if he doesn’t make an immediate impact next year, and I have every confidence he’ll keep playing (in the NFL) once he graduates from there.”