OSU's Romaine gives himself 'C' grade, but freshman has leg and potential for higher marks
CORVALLIS - Trevor Romaine has had a pretty good season for a true freshman place-kicking in the Pac-12.
Oregon State's rookie kicker is 12 for 18 on field-goal attempts, 18 for 18 on conversion attempts and has already set a school single-season record with eight touchbacks on kickoffs going into Saturday's game against fourth-ranked Stanford at Reser Stadium.
Ah, but performance at the Division I-A level doesn't come with an asterisk.
And his missed field goals have usually come at important moments.
The biggest miss was the 27-yard attempt that was the potential game-winner on the final play of regulation in the season-opening 29-28 overtime loss to Sacramento State. It bounced off the goal post and out.
There was a late 34-yard miss in a 35-20 loss at Arizona State, two misses at 41 and 48 yards in a 38-28 loss to Brigham Young and a first-quarter 50-yarder than went awry in last Saturday's 27-8 defeat at Utah.
'I'd give myself a C grade so far,' the 5-10, 200-pound Corona, Calif., native says. 'I should be a lot better on my field goals. I'm pretty happy with my kickoffs, though I wish I could have back a couple back that went out of bounds. Nothing I can do but learn from it.'
Oregon State has sent a pair of place-kickers to the pros during the Mike Riley era, Jose Cortez and Alexis Serna. And Serna won the Lou Groza Award as the nation's outstanding kicker. Neither had the potential range or power of Romaine, a star soccer player until devoting his senior year to football.
'He has a great leg,' Riley says, 'and he is already the best kickoff guy we've had.'
All six of Romaine's missed field-goal attempts have had the distance but have been wide left or right. As a senior at Centennial High, he booted a school-record 52-yarder.
'Every kick they give me, I feel I should be able to make,' Romaine says. 'In practice (this season), the farthest we've gone is 57 and I've made it. During a game, with the adrenaline going, I think I could easily make it from 60.'
Special-teams coach Bruce Read doesn't doubt it.
'Trevor has a little more pop than Alexis and (Justin) Kahut did on kickoffs,' Read says. 'He has to work on his placements, and he's kicked a couple out of bounds.
'But he is a really talented guy who is working his way up. He has good leg strength, he attacks the ball, he's quick. He is much more capable than he has shown, because he is so young. These are his first college games. We anticipate he'll be more and more accurate as his career goes on.'
Three of Romaine's six missed field-goal tries have come after he has already made at least two in a game.
'I just need to get my mental state better and keep myself in the game better as the game goes on,' he says. 'There are little things that, as a freshman, I need to fix and act more like a senior.'
In high school, Romaine set state career records for PATs converted (217) and kicking points (280) on teams that twice reached the state finals, winning the title his junior season in 2008.
'It's a different game for him than in high school, when his teams beat everybody by 50 points,' Read says. 'He was kicking off eight times and getting 10 PATs a game.
'Now, every play counts. Everything has tightened up. He is getting used to how the next level is.'
But Romaine has a self-confidence and a demeanor Read loves.
'Things roll off him,' Read says. 'He has a great personality. He's outward, he's fun to be around, he's not in a shell.
'If he missed the last one, he thinks he's going to make the next one. He has a great attitude that way about himself and his ability.'
Romaine says it's a matter of having a short memory.
'If I were to go out there thinking about the last one and how I missed it, it'd make me think too much about what I shouldn't do and create bigger problems,' he says. 'If I just go out there and kick like I know how to kick, it's easy.'
But what happened on that chip shot against Sacramento State?
'I don't remember,' he says with a smile. 'It's out of my memory. I'm just looking forward to the Stanford game.'
Romaine might be the first kicker in Oregon State history to draw a personal-foul penalty - on a kickoff in the BYU game.
'I was ready to kill him,' Read says. 'He heard about it a lot.'
'I wasn't thinking,' Romaine says sheepishly. 'I love hitting. That's the only thing bad about being a kicker. I love to hit.
'Some guy was trying to block me late. I got too wound up and didn't hear the whistle. Stupid freshman mistake.'
Romaine grayshirted after graduating from Centennial in the spring of 2010. He enrolled at Oregon State last winter, choosing the Beavers with the opportunity to earn an immediate scholarship and early playing time.
'Arizona was interested and I had an official visit set for Nevada,' Romaine says. 'But when I came up here, I knew this was where I wanted to be.'
Now he is the Beavers' kicker, with a chance to set school scoring records over his four years at Oregon State. He just has to straighten out those field goal attempts.
'We want to be consistent,' Riley says. 'We want to make those field goals. That's where the great ones separate from the good ones.'