Penn State throwback: Sam Ficken overcame rough start to become a most reliable kicker
Every Thursday throughout the offseason, PennLive will take a look back at a former Penn State player, recapping his time with the Nittany Lions, his accomplishments while in Happy Valley and where his career took him after college football. This week, we look back at kicker Sam Ficken, whose rough start with Penn State ended with a bang.
Sam Ficken did a lot of kicking at Valparaiso High School in Indiana, both on the gridiron and the pitch. As a former soccer player, Ficken hit 13 field goals during his senior season, including a school-record 52-yard kick. That year, he was named to the first-team Associated Press Class 5A all-state team. As a two-star recruit, Ficken committed to Penn State on Jan. 7, 2011.
Ficken didn’t see much playing time during his first year with the Nittany Lions. Playing behind veteran kicker Anthony Fera for the 2011 season, Ficken finished 1-for-2 on field goal tries. He made his college debut in the first game of the season, a 41-7 blowout over Indiana State. In that game, he converted on a PAT and kicked off once.
Ficken missed his first career field goal try against Temple two weeks later. In Week 4 against Eastern Michigan, he connected on his first field goal, this one from 43-yards out. He wouldn’t play again in the 2011 season, but was among four true freshmen who saw action in 2011. Penn State finished the season 9-4, losing to Houston, 30-14, in the Ticket City Bowl.