COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — At first, all Austin Brizee wanted was a free Chipotle meal.
Now there’s a chance the Ohio State junior could realize a dream not even he thought possible.
On Dec. 27, just after Ohio State’s marching band had finished practice inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, Brizee, a trumpet player, told a couple of friends that he might be able to kick a 55-yard field goal. If he did, Brizee said, Chipotle would be on them. Those buddies, Jeremy Parr and Konner Barr, probably figured they wouldn’t have to reach for their wallets.
In fact, right after his foot made contact with the ball, Brizee blurted out, “Ah, I shanked it!”
But he hadn’t. The ball sailed through the uprights.
Now Brizee, 20, might end up with more than the chicken bowl with brown rice and black beans he happily feasted on. Video of the kick quickly went viral. It got the attention of Buckeyes assistant director of player personnel Eron Hodges. He texted Brizee and offered a walk-on tryout. Brizee doesn’t have a date yet for that tryout, but he is taking his opportunity seriously. He has enlisted former Ohio State kicker Kyle Clinton to help refine his technique.
When Clinton first saw the video clip, he was skeptical.
“I couldn’t believe it. I was shocked,” he said. “Very rarely do you see someone in the marching band kicking pretty solid field goals, let alone a 55-yarder. I had to watch the video a couple times to make sure he was back at 55 yards.”
This was not a fluke. Brizee is a talented athlete who played four sports— baseball, soccer, golf and bowling —at Brush High School in suburban Cleveland.
Brizee enrolled at Thiel College in Pennsylvania with the intention of playing baseball. When that didn’t pan out, he eventually transferred to Ohio State, in part to try out for the band. He has played the trumpet since elementary school.
“I’ll never forget standing in the room and hearing my name called,” he said of making the band. “All the hard work I put in was well worth it.”
He described the feeling of marching down the ramp at Ohio Stadium the first time as “incredible” and cherishes performing “Script Ohio.”
“It’s a blessing, just because it’s so well-known around the country and around the world,” Brizee said. “Everyone knows Ohio State for the football team and for Script Ohio.”
If Brizee does make the football team, he likely would have to quit the band.
“It would be tough. I’m not going to lie,” he said. “I’ve made a lot of good friendships there. But most of (the band members) I’ve talked to say if I get the opportunity, there’s no way I should turn it down.”
Though Brizee has never played organized football, he developed a strong leg from soccer and would mess around kicking the pigskin. But what was nothing more than a lark has now turned serious.
Clinton believes that Brizee has a realistic chance to earn a spot.
“He has all the ability in the world,” Clinton said. “As of right now, he doesn’t have the background, the fundamentals. That’s what we’re working on. It’s all about the repetitions and getting the muscle memory and getting everything consistent. That just takes time and practice.”
Last year, Tyler Durbin became OSU’s kicker despite a total lack of football experience after Sean Nuernberger suffered a groin injury in camp. Durbin did well until missing four kicks in OSU’s final two games, against Michigan and Clemson.
Nuernberger apparently is healthy and the Buckeyes added Blake Haubeil, the second-ranked incoming freshman nationally. So the odds of Brizee winning the job, let alone passing the tryout, are steep.
“I try not to play the numbers game,” Brizee said. “As long as I do what I can do and give it 100 percent, I can’t be disappointed in myself, no matter what happens.”
Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com