NORMAN — What started out as boredom killing evolved into a dream for Patrick O’Hara. And as a result, Oklahoma may have uncovered an answer at place-kicker in the unlikeliest of places.
It all began eight months ago, on the Topeka, Kan., campus of Washburn University. O’Hara and his twin brother Steven, both freshman students at Washburn, decided to kill a spring afternoon by kicking footballs. Neither had ever played football. In fact, neither had even kicked a football before. But as former high school soccer players, both enjoyed kicking things. So the brothers rounded up a couple of old footballs and headed to the field. First they kicked short field goals. Then 40-yarders. Then 50-yarders. "We were crushing the ball,” O’Hara recalled. It didn’t take O’Hara long to figure out he had a knack for field-goal kicking. He considered joining Washburn’s Division II football team. "I thought about that,” he said. "But I really wanted to play Division I. Maybe try and get school paid for. I thought I had the talent. If you can chase a dream, do it.” So O’Hara chased the dream. After some more practice, he made a home video of himself kicking field goals and sent copies to several Big 12 schools. One particular school came away impressed. Sooner recruiting coordinator David White invited O’Hara to come see the campus and consider walking on. "I thought I’d give it a shot and transfer to OU,” O’Hara said. Eventually, he made the team. But for two months, O’Hara watched from the sidelines, unsure if he’d ever get a chance to kick in a game. After all, the Sooners already had two kickers on scholarship in addition to preferential walk-on Bryce Easley.