CEDAR RAPIDS — You don’t see a blue-blood college football program like Penn State go to Iowa much to recruit. Or, like, ever.
There are so many kids in Pennsylvania and its surrounding states for the Nittany Lions to subsist and thrive.
But when looking for a placekicker a couple of years ago, Penn State came across Jake Pinegar, and it’s glad it did. He’s glad it did.
“I was doing some camps my senior year, and came across the Penn State coaching staff,” Pinegar said. “They wanted me to come out here for a visit. I came out here and did well. I love it here. They wanted me to come play here and, at the time, it was kind of the best decision for me. Ever since I’ve been here, I’ve realized it’s the best decision I’ve made. I’m happy with it.”
And the folks in Happy Valley are happy with him.
Pinegar went 53 of 55 in extra points and made 16 of 24 field goals last season for PSU. That included going 3-for-3 in a win against Iowa, including a career-long 49-yarder.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder, who was a star wide receiver and defensive back in high school, has made all 31 of his extra-point attempts this season, including tying a school record with 10 in the season opener against Idaho.
He’s 4-for-5 in field goals, missing his first last week against Purdue, a 35-yarder.
“That was a kick I am capable of making and should have made,” Pinegar said. “But I knew going into the season, everyone likes to try and be perfect, but you are going to come across a game or a kick where you are going to miss it. That’s just the way it is, just the nature of it. But I am feeling a lot better this year, and one kick doesn’t really mean anything at all. It’s in the past. This is a new week, and it’s going to be a big, crucial week to go out there and do what I have to do. I’m just focused on that right now.”
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Pinegar said he expects many family members and friends to be at Kinnick Stadium for Saturday night’s ABC-televised game against Iowa. He also hopes to bump into former Centennial teammate Riley Moss, who played a lot last season as a true freshman cornerback for the Hawkeyes but who is dealing with a leg injury that has kept him out of every game so far in 2019.
Pinegar said Iowa never really recruited him in high school because it was already stocked with kickers. Iowa State recruited him early but stopped for awhile.
By the time the Cyclones tried to get back in on him, Pinegar said his mind already was set on going elsewhere. He eventually picked Penn State over Indiana, with schools like Bowling Green and Northern Illinois also having offered scholarships.
He is actually splitting kicking duties this season for the Nittany Lions, handling all extra points and field-goal tries under 50 yards. Jordan Stout, a Virginia Tech transfer, is PSU’s long-range field-goal kicker and handles kickoff duties.
“There was no negative impression of Jordan Stout at all,” Pinegar said. “I think when you are on the field competing, you are going to go onto the field and compete. That is what you are focused on. You may not necessarily be someone’s best friend when you are on the field competing.
“But through the whole thing, I think we’ve gotten along together really well. We both want to make each other better ... and I think that comes through.”
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