STILLWATER — Leave early and declare for the NFL Draft, or stay another year in school? That's usually a decision for position players other than a punter or kicker.
Quinn Sharp contemplated turning pro but opted to return to Oklahoma State for his senior year. He discussed options with his parents and former Oklahoma State special teams coach Joe DeForest.
“I wanted to find out if there was true interest,” Sharp said. “It's beneficial for me to get another year of field goals under my belt. That's the big question right now, whether they see me as a punter or a kicker.”
Sharp enters the season as a candidate for the Lou Groza and Ray Guy awards, which go to the nation's top place-kicker and punter, respectively.
“This second year (kicking field goals) will help me out a lot,” he said. “Hopefully, I can perform as well as I did last year, which would solidify a lot things for (NFL scouts).”
That's the irony to Sharp's career. He's averaged 45.6 yards a punt for three seasons but arrived at OSU as the nation's top-rated high school place-kicker.
Sharp worked behind Matt Fodge and Dan Bailey as a redshirt freshman. When Fodge graduated, Sharp's first role at OSU was punting. When Bailey moved on to the Dallas Cowboys, Sharp excelled during his first season handling field goals.
“Punting really wasn't my specialty,” Sharp said. “I worked a lot with both of those guys and got progressively better in the punting game. I just kind of rolled with it. It ended up being a big success. In a sense, I kind of surprised myself.”
The first-team All-American converted 22 of 25 field goals last season. Sharp's 63 touchbacks led the nation, 21 more than any other kicker. The Mansfield, Texas, product is among a handful of kickers who handle all three roles — kickoffs, extra points/field goals and punts.
“It's the way you manage them each day,” Sharp said. “Kickoffs and field goals, the leg swings are similar. Punting is completely different. There is a lot more technical stuff to it.”
One adjustment is DeForest left to join Dana Holgorsen's staff at West Virginia.
“He was definitely a big influence,” Sharp said of DeForest. “He's one of the top special teams' coaches in the nation. That's why our program has consistently been ranked high.”
Sharp said it's an honor to a candidate for the Groza and Guy awards.
“It's a goal, something I'm shooting for,” Sharp said. “I'm very appreciative to get the opportunity to do all three. Most kids don't get that chance.”
QUINN SHARP'S CAMPAIGN SLOGAN
“Sharp as a Tack”
After contemplating jumping to the NFL, Quinn Sharp is back for one more season as the Cowboys' do-it-all kicker. And he's an early candidate to capture both the Ray Guy and Lou Groza Awards, which go to the nation's top punter and kicker.
QUINN SHARP'S CAMPAIGN ENDORSEMENTS
* OSU receiver Charlie Moore: “As a kicker, he has the hair like the mane of a lion, which somehow puts the power in his leg to hit 80-yard punts. It's the farthest I've ever seen a human kick a football.”
* OSU defensive back Justin Gilbert: “I've never seen anyone with a leg like his.”