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Kicker depth gives Beavers a leg up

CORVALLIS — There are no worries about depth at kicker for the Oregon State football team.

The Beavers have six on the roster, including junior Garrett Owens, last season's starter, and senior Ian Crist.

The others are redshirt freshmen Jordan Choukair, Daniel Rodriguez and Zach Standish and true freshman Adley Rutschman.

Why six kickers?

"Kickers are a little bit like quarterback, you need multiple legs or else you're going to wear your guy out," co-offensive coordinator T.J. Woods said.

"With all the scout team reps, you're kicking the ball a lot every day, so it's important to have depth at that position not only for practice, but for games. You never want to be one deep at any position, even kicker, at football."

Owens made 11 of 13 field goal attempts in six games in 2014 filling in for Trevor Romaine, which was good enough to land him the starting job for 2015.

He hit 11 of 15 last season.

"I think we're in really good shape there," Woods said. "Garrett's a proven guy, he's been in it. I think his resume speaks for itself in that area. He's got a dang good holder in Nick (Porebski) and a dang good snapper in Ryan (Navarro) and those guys are all returners so they've all been able to work with each other for a long time and that's such a valuable piece for a football team to have a kicker.

"Every time the score team takes the field as a field goal unit, you've got an opportunity to score points and that's important and I look to Garrett to be able to do that for us."

Owens said he likes having five kickers on the team because it allows for stronger competition every practice.

There will always be one of the kickers who is on at any one time, so that keeps everything interesting.

"It makes you a better kicker because you have to come out every day and you have to be on your game and if you're not, then someone else is on and that's just the way the cookie crumbles," Owens said. "So I think that having that many kickers, it really makes you elevate your game and step up. I like it."

Crist is the elder of the group and provides Owens with the perfect amount of competition to keep both players at the top of their game.

"He pushes me every day to be better and better," Owens said. "I think he's the one who pushes me the most and he's a great kicker, so it helps me elevate my game every day to come out here and kick well.

"Always having that person that's next up to be ready to play, having them be ready to go and they could go in a game and get it done, that makes you get better and you want to elevate your game so I think it's important to have someone behind you who pushes you every day."

The competition does not lead to problems between the players.

Owens said they are a close-knit group and they are all good friends. But when they take the field, it's time for competition.

"When it's not our time then we kind of revert back to the friends and when it's our time, it's competition time," he said. "So it goes back and forth, but it's a good balance."

Last season, Owens was only able to match his 11 field goals of 2014 despite playing in six more games.

The main issue was an offense that was not hitting on all cylinders. Owens said he's excited about the potential of the current offense.

"We had a young offense last year and this year, now that we have a solidified quarterback situation and we have a strong O-line and strong running backs and receiver corps, everything's going to mesh and hopefully I'm kicking more PAT's and field goals," he said. "I know we're going to be in the red zone often, so it's just a matter of converting at that point."