Holder Joseph Davidson and kicker Jake Suder work together on an extra point. A 53-yard field goal in a BGSU practice earned Central Catholic grad Suder a scholarship. BLADE/JETTA FRASER
BOWLING GREEN — Jake Suder has made some pressure kicks in his Bowling Green State University football career.
But that pressure pales in comparison to the pressure he faced on a 53-yard field goal attempt in practice last Monday.
“It was a normal practice, and we planned on doing a field-goal period like normal,” Suder said. “So we started kicking, and we started backing up.
“Then coach [Mike] Jinks stopped practice as we faced a 53-yard kick, and he said, ‘You know what, Jake? If you hit this field goal, you can get a full scholarship.’ ”
Jinks said it was a spur-of-the-moment decision to put the scholarship pressure on the junior kicker from Toledo.
“We put teammates around him to create some adversity, but that really wasn’t for Jake — it was for our young deep snapper,” Jinks said, citing redshirt freshman Gabe Skrobot. “We wanted to put the pressure on him, because Jake has been cool and calm.
“Jake had just made one from 57 yards before [in a previous practice] but I wanted to see him push his limit. And the kick was spotted on the right hash, where he has struggled a little bit, so I thought if he made that kick, that would answer my questions.”
Well, as a video the team released Wednesday shows, Suder made the kick and earned the scholarship.
“As soon as it left my foot, I knew it was going through the uprights,” he said. “There was a little wind moving left to right, so I knew if I hit it straight, it would go through the uprights.”
Suder, a Central Catholic graduate, was on a semester-to-semester scholarship last season, which meant there was no guarantee he would receive a scholarship this season.
“It’s a huge weight off my shoulders,” he said. “I got to call my parents and tell them they didn’t have to pay for school, and that’s a huge thing.
“I told coach Jinks how grateful I was for it.”
Suder, who attempted just two field goals as a senior at Central Catholic, set a simple goal when he first joined the Falcons program.
“We had a strong enough offense that field goals weren’t necessary,” Suder said of his high school days. “So after high school, I just wanted to make the Bowling Green team.
“Then when Tyler Tate left, I knew there was an open spot. And it was a great feeling to earn that spot.”
But it was not easy to earn that spot. One of the worst days came in a spring practice of 2016, where Jinks asked a student trainer to try a field goal after Suder had missed a long kick.
“I remember that plain as day,” Suder said. “That hurt. But it’s not something you always think about. It’s something that can break you or drive you to do better.
“It made me so angry, I didn’t want to face that failure again.”
Suder eventually earned the job, but he said he did not feel comfortable in the job until the Eastern Michigan game.
“I had missed a kick in the first quarter, and in the fourth quarter I faced a pretty crucial kick to keep us in the game,” he said. “When I hit that one, I realized you can’t let little stuff like a missed kick bother you.”
The change in Suder was obvious: Making that kick against the Eagles jump-started a finish where he made seven of his last eight, with a long of 44. His only miss was from 49 yards.
Then in the spring Suder continued to show improvement. His coach noticed.
“Jake put the thought of a scholarship in my head last spring, because he made great strides from fall to spring,” Jinks said.
“Then he hit a 45 and 47-yarder in the spring game, and he kept working hard in the summer to add strength, add muscle.”
All that was left was to earn a scholarship, and Suder has video proof that he accomplished that.
But what would have happened had Suder not made the kick?
“I try not to think about that,” Suder said with a smile.