Austin Errthum goes from tryout to UNI's starting kicker

Former Mid-Prairie prep expected to get nod as starter Saturday night against Iowa State

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CEDAR FALLS — Northern Iowa’s starting kicker Saturday night in the season opener at Iowa State made the team last fall after a tryout.

It was a combine, of sorts, for guys who were students at the school and thought maybe they were good enough to help the Panthers in some capacity. They were timed in the 40-yard dash, their bench press abilities were monitored, things like that.

“It is kind of an interesting story,” Austin Errthum said with a laugh. “I didn’t kick one ball at my tryout, worked out as a defensive back instead. I think there were probably 18 or 19 guys there. Three made the cut, and I’m the only one still playing.”

Again, that’s as a kicker. The walk-on from Mid-Prairie High School eventually got a chance to show off his big leg and apparently has beaten out senior Matt Easley for the job.

Welcome to college football, kid. Your first game is against a FBS school in a Jack Trice Stadium that’s known for its swirling winds.

Go get ‘em.

“I mean, playing at Iowa State, it’s really exciting just because there will be, like, 65,000 people there,” Errthum said. “The atmosphere will be great, playing a major college team. But, really, for me, I’ll be taking three steps and kicking a ball. That’s it.”

If Errthum goes on to have a good career for UNI, he’ll be a good story. He already is a good story.

The left-footer was a soccer player as a freshman at Drake, playing in every one of his team’s games. But he said the school just wasn’t a good fit, so he decided to leave.

Having an itch to return to football, he sent out e-mails to 20 schools and got zero replies. Northern Iowa eventually ended up being his destination.

“I didn’t want to regret not trying football again,” Errthum said. “So I literally tried out last fall. I had faith I would make the team.”

“Right now, it’s Austin Errthum. Unless something changes, he’s the starting kicker,” UNI Coach Mark Farley said earlier this week. “(It has been) probably his consistency from spring to now. I think you can hear a good kick before you see it sometimes. He’s been really drilling the ball well, it comes off his foot well, with good consistency.”

Errthum kicked a 58-yard field goal in high school, so there’s no questioning his leg strength. He said he’d feel comfortable with attempts up to the 60-yard range.

He said having a strong soccer background has helped him adjust to kicking without a tee in college, and he actually prefers it. He misses the constant involvement soccer gave him, but is ecstatic with the opportunity he has been given.

The opportunity he has earned.

“Errthum, it’s a new environment with everything. That’s the only thing I can’t judge right now,” Farley said. “He contacted us by e-mail, so our starting kicker, we got by e-mail. Kind of crazy.”

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