Sophomore Long Field Goal Specialist Jacob Lewis Hopes To Get Kick Out Of His Transfer To Minnesota.

Jacob Lewis, a 6-foot-2, 207-pound sophomore kicker, recently announced that he will transfer from Ball State to Minnesota.


GopherHole recently caught up with Lewis to learn the latest on his reasons to transfer to Big Ten country and upcoming junior year.


Gopher Hole: You committed to Minnesota recently as a preferred walk-on kicker. What was the main reason that you decided Minnesota was where you wanted to continue your college football career?


Jacob Lewis: When I took an official visit out there and meet the coaching staff. I meet the team. I just knew it was the place for me. The visit really sealed the deal. I love the campus. I love the facility. I love the staff, so it was like all signs pointing to Minnesota.


GopherHole: When did you visit Minnesota?


Jacob Lewis: It was the 21st through the 23rd of January.


GopherHole: What all did you get a chance to see and do?


Jacob Lewis: I got to meet all coaches and I hung out a lot with the specialists, which are a good group of guys. They ended up taking me to a basketball game. Meet the other recruits and they showed me the facilities and the stadium and the indoor photo shoot. I got to be around campus on a tour, so I got to see the business school, which is pretty exciting.


GopherHole: I’ve always felt that it seems like most special team players have a good relationship with each other even though you are competiting against each other. You can usually only have one kicker, one punter. Is that something that you have noticed, that even though you are in competition to start, that you are usually friendly and relate well to each other?


Jacob Lewis: Yes, it was the same way at Ball State. It definitely feels the same way at Minnesota, that it’s a good group of guys, which is the most important thing and they are all just trying to make each other better. Everybody comes to each other every day to really be the best that they can. Those are your best friends that you hang out with every day, so it’s a good group of guys.


GopherHole: I happened to be watching 60 Minutes recently and they had a feature on kickers and their makeup. Kickers are usually on a different field. Did you happen to see that and did it ring true to you?


Jacob Lewis: Yes. Just with how these NFL playoffs have been, I think everyone is starting to realize how important special teams is. I think going into this week, there were no missed field goals. It’s like you are never really the hero until they need you and if you don’t go out there and perform, you are the scapegoat.


GopherHole: I think you are right, unfortunately. You are either the hero or the goat and there is nothing in-between, unfortunately?


Jacob Lewis: Exactly, but that is the nature of the job.


GopherHole: How did you get into kicking?


Jacob Lewis: That’s kind of funny. I didn’t start until my junior year of high school. I moved from one high school in our district to another, just like the way the district worked out. We had a new high school my junior year and playing soccer my whole life and the football coach was one of my neighbors at my old house and he said “we need a kicker, so you might want to try out just to see.” I came out and it was just natural. I just loved it from the second I started and it’s been crazy ever since. I started my junior summer going into my fall and I had a year to get ready for college camps and here I am two years after that.


GopherHole: A lot of the good kickers have a soccer background. Do you think that is helpful to you?


Jacob Lewis: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. Even in high school, my soccer coach was really good at allowing me to do both sports, because they are both in the fall. It definitely helps with leg strength and stuff like that, because that is pretty much what kicking is.


GopherHole: How did you end up at Ball State?


Jacob Lewis: Out of high school, it was between Ball State, Eastern Michigan and Cincinnati for me. It just felt like Ball State was the place for me. Loved the coaching staff there. Met some guys on the visit and it just really seems like it clicked and was the place for me and committed there and loved every minute of it, too.


GopherHole: Were you a walk-on there, too?


Jacob Lewis: Yes. I was a walk-on there, too.


GopherHole: Were you ever on scholarship at Ball State or did you walk-on both years?


Jacob Lewis: I walked-on both years. They were saying that I was being planned to be put on this coming fall for this fall semester, but I obviously transferred.


GopherHole: What was the main reason you decided to put your name into the transfer portal?


Jacob Lewis: It just seemed like the right decision for me. I kind of wanted to see what else was there. I loved Ball State and
I loved every second of it. Without being on scholarship, there was nothing really tying me down there or holding me down and I just wanted to explore my options and see what else was out there.


GopherHole: What other schools were you hearing from?


Jacob Lewis: I was talking with some SEC’s, Big 12, a couple of other MAC schools and some other Big Ten’s, but narrowed it down to Minnesota and Texas Tech were probably my final two.


GopherHole: Is kind of weird because after you put your name into the transfer portal, you were somewhat experienced since you had been to college compared to when you were in high school going to college. You mentioned thew schools that you were hearing from, which was an impressive list of schools. However, years ago, you were the same kicker basically and you weren’t hearing from that many schools. Does that feel kind of weird?


Jacob Lewis: Yes. I feel like I’m the same kicker but I just established myself with more of a background now, just because I got such a late start in high school. I got invited to the Kohl’s camps and talked to some of the guys there and they were like “I’ve been kicking since sixth grade” and I’m like “Really, because I just started.” I just got such a late start in high school. I don’t think that I really got enough time to get my name out there because I only had one summer to really prove that I could be in college.


GopherHole: Does that make you feel that you have a little bit more of an upside than some of those other kickers who have been doing it forever and that you have more room for improvement?


Jacob Lewis: Yes, absolutely. I was talking to (special teams coordinator) Coach (Rob) Wenger and he was saying that I’m just starting. There is a lot of room to grow, so I really just have to get up there and see what I can do. The sky’s the limit because I’m so fresh and there is so much to work on.


GopherHole: Did you make any other visits besides Minnesota?


Jacob Lewis: No, that was my only visit since the transfer. After I saw it, I figured that was the one.


GopherHole: I don’t know if you did a ton of research before you got up here, but they have another kicker with a MAC background, Matthew Trickett, who has one year left and they have a long range kicker and kickoff specialist Dragan Kesich, who they actually just gave a scholarship to recently. Is that something you looked into with Minnesota and the schools to see what their kicking situation was like?


Jacob Lewis: Yes. I’m not going to lie. I definitely did my research before going out and looking around, just to know what I was walking into. Coach Wenger has been pretty upfront with everything, so there were no real surprises there.


GopherHole: You want to get a scholarship here. Does the fact that they just gave a kicker here a scholarship make you think that if you do what you need to do that could be me down the road?


Jacob Lewis: Yes, absolutely. I think it was Coach Fleck said that they had 24 guys on in the last five years. They have a little Hall of Fame with all their walk-ons that they put on. That’s really kind of relief to know that they stick to it. That is one of their values. That is just their policy is if you contribute, then you’ll be rewarded for it.


GopherHole: I have a feeling that mom and dad will like that, too?


Jacob Lewis: Couldn’t hurt, especially with out-state tuition.


GopherHole: Had you ever been to Minnesota before you came up here?


Jacob Lewis: No, I actually hadn’t. I’ve traveled a little bit, just like family vacations and stuff, but I don’t think I’ve ever been to Minnesota.


GopherHole: What have they said about next year? They have Trickett back. Have they said much to you or is it going to be an open competition?


Jacob Lewis: Wenger has been pretty upfront that the best kicker is going to kick, so whether that would be me or Trickett, he is going to put the best guy out there that gives us a shot to win. I just want to contribute to the team in any way and I know long field goals are one of my strong suits and that is something that we discussed is possibly doing a longer/shorter field goal approach.


GopherHole: You had a good season last year and I think that you were perfect from 45 and beyond. Is that something that you feel is one of your strengths?


Jacob Lewis: Yes, I definitely think that is one of my strengths. Just being able, 45 plus, I just go out there and “think I got this,” and then it is just automatic. I don’t want to be “that type of guy,” but I just feel confident from long and all I have to do is try to work on my shorter kicks and should be good to go.


GopherHole: Trickett was pretty good on shorter field goals, but to be honest, he struggled in his first season with the longer field goals?


Jacob Lewis: That is something that I approached Wenger about being a long and a short range field goal. That is what we did at Ball State. We had two. We had a shorter field goal kicker and a longer and it works. It is something that I brought up that could happen if I didn’t win the spot out of camp. Ideally, I’d just win the short range spot, too.


GopherHole: When are you arriving in Minnesota?


Jacob Lewis: I don’t have anything set in stone yet, but I think they were saying in June, early June for summer workouts.


GopherHole: Are you finishing up class at Ball State?


Jacob Lewis: I am just enrolled at Ball State this spring. I kind of enrolled there again because I didn’t really want to rush into the commitment anywhere and figure out where I am going in like a week. I am finishing the semester at Ball State and then heading out in June.


GopherHole: What are some of the things that you like to do away from the football field?


Jacob Lewis: It has definitely been different since I entered the portal. I haven’t been at football much. I’ve had a lot more time during the day. I like hanging out with my roommates. They are all on the football team, too, so pretty much whatever they are doing, I’m doing. I’ll play some video games sometimes with them. It’s pretty chill. There’s not too much going on in Muncie.


GopherHole: When people say Ball State, what do most people think? To be honest, I always think of David Letterman.


Jacob Lewis: Exactly. He came back for the “Peyton’s Places episode. It was pretty cool. He and Peyton Manning came out to our field and started running all these trick plays. It was pretty cool. It was sweet.


GopherHole: You’ll have three years of eligibility left, right , because of the COVID year?


Jacob Lewis: I should have three years and a redshirt left. I played my first two.


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