Most Important Buckeyes: No. 20
By Patrick Maks
(Editor’s Note: This list of 20 Most Important Buckeyes was calculated by a staff poll at The-Ozone. It is not necessarily meant to reflect the 20 most talented players on Ohio State’s roster, but instead the 20 players who could/should have the biggest impact on Urban Meyer’s first season in Columbus.)
Photo by Dan Harker
Essential, but perhaps often unappreciated, our countdown of Ohio State’s 20 Most Important Players begins with junior kicker Drew Basil.
Yes, it’s a kicker—and here’s why.
In examining Basil’s significance to the Buckeyes’ 2012 squad, it’s easy—and critical—to start with the facts:
Last season Basil was almost automatic.
In fact, statistically, he was historic.
The Chillicothe, Ohio native connected on 16-19 attempts in 2011, or what mathematically able folk translate to 84.2 percent—a figure that led the entire Big Ten, was the fifth-best percentage in Buckeye football history and ninth-best for field goals in a single season.
That was after he missed his first four career tries, including his only pair of attempts in 2010 and his first two last season.
Basil, though, turned that bumpy start into a streak of historical proportions, by drilling 12 consecutive field goals in 2011—a record good for the third longest in Ohio State history. Maybe equally impressive is the fact Basil has missed just one attempt in the last 17 tries.
It’s not like he’s tapping in chip shots, either.
Basil has a leg on him—drilling six field goals from 40 yards and then some. That number is good for the second-most in Buckeye history behind former OSU kicker Mike Nugent, who knocked down 11 attempts in 2002.
It’s not a stretch to say Ohio State’s success was, in part, contingent upon Basil’s ability to produce—and produce in spite of an offense that was often inept, incapable and incompetent at times last season under interim head coach Luke Fickell.
Maybe that’s why first-year coach Urban Meyer has seemed to put even a greater emphasis on Basil’s game—something that surely Ohio State fans saw throughout this past spring.
First, Meyer threw Basil into the fire and forced him to kick while circled by some 3,000 playfully jeering fans at OSU’s open practice on April 14 inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
A week later, in the Buckeyes’ Spring Game, Meyer interrupted the flow of the scrimmage and put Basil in a similarly demanding scenario that required the kicker to deliver on a flurry of attempts after hitting a live 41-yard field goal.
In front of more than 80,000 people, Meyer put Basil on the spot and pressed him to do it a second time from the same distance. Basil again nailed it and Meyer pushed him back to kick from 45-yards out.
While his first attempt was blocked, Basil connected on his second try from 45-yards before nailing a booming 53-yard attempt—a distance that’s plagued Basil before, considering three of his five career misses have come from 50 yards and beyond.
Only then did Meyer take his kicker off the hot seat, after Basil failed two valiant attempts from 58-yards.
It will be likely, though, Basil will be under the gun for most of 2012—not unlike most seasons for any kicker at the college level. In year where Ohio State will try to right the ship after its first losing season since 1988, the Buckeyes will need their kicker to come through in the clutch as much now as ever.
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