It's hard to imagine things getting much better for Utah State placekicker Brad Bohn than they are right now.
He is a perfect 9-for-9 in field goals this year and 10-for-10 in PATs. He is far and away the Aggies' leading scorer with 37 points. He ranks second in the nation in field goals. He earned Big West Special Teams Player of the Week two weeks running. With one more field goal, he can tie the USU record for consecutive field goals.Heck, Bohn is doing so well, even his coaches are being nice to him these days.
It hasn't always been this easy for Bohn (pronounced Bawn). Not that it was tough growing up in Laguna Beach, Calif., where he surfed, played soccer, baseball and golf and saw sunshine year-round. But there have been a few rough moments for him since he arrived in Logan two years ago.
There was that week just before the 1997 season when he went from fourth string to first string back to fourth string and finally back to first string. There were the six months recuperating from a back injury. There were the embarrassing extra-point misses last season, four to be exact, more than some kickers get in a career. There was the reaming he took from coach Dave Arslanian just before this season following a poor performance in a scrimmage.
Actually, that "talk" by Arslanian may have been a big factor in Bohn's success. Arslanian admits being hard on his placekicker, but Bohn says it has helped.
"He said, `Don't worry about anything - just kick the ball,' " said Bohn. "That kind of sparked something in me to go out and kick the ball and have a good time doing it."
Bohn said he used to get nervous in practice, even more than in games. "It's harder to kick in front of the team, but I've settled down a lot."
Not only has Bohn been perfect in his kicking this year, he really hasn't come close to missing. Every kick has gone directly through the uprights with plenty of distance. Usually Bohn is being congratulated by his holder, Logan Galli, before the ball has even cleared the crossbar.
Bohn has also improved on his kickoffs, which often didn't even make it to the goal line last year. Now he is consistently reaching the end zone.
Perhaps the most nerve-wracking field goal of his life was the 41-yarder he had in the first overtime against New Mexico three weeks ago. There was about a five-minute delay before the kick as the officials tried to sort out a problem with New Mexico timeouts. Bohn stayed on the field, and when Arslanian tried to wave him over to talk to him, Bohn calmly waved back as if to say, "Hey coach, things are cool out here. Don't worry."
Besides that 41-yarder, Bohn also kicked an extra point and another field goal in the overtime loss. He had five field goals that night, tying a Utah State record.
"With maturity, my leg gets stronger and stronger," said Bohn, the smallest player on the team at 5-foot-6, 170. "I also did a lot of stadiums (running the stairs) and worked out in the water doing positive and negative resistance."
Bohn was recruited to Utah State three years ago on the assumption that he would take over for Micah Knorr after a redshirt season.
However, he didn't kick as well as he did in high school, particularly after sitting out for a year as a redshirt. He said he needed to "work some kinks out" and also found not kicking in competition hurt him. And he blew a disc in his back lifting weights, which set him behind a few months.
Coach John L. Smith, worried that Bohn may not be the kicker he expected, went out and recruited a couple of JC transfers. And when fall practice opened in 1997, Bohn found himself way down the depth chart at third or fourth string.
He stayed down the depth chart all during camp, although he was still allowed to kick with the first team on occasion. Suddenly, the week of the game, Bohn was listed as the starter, then fell back to fourth team before grabbing the top spot for good.
By the end of the year, he had set USU records for PAT attempts and makes as well as converting 9 of 15 field goals with a long of 47. His kicking also sent those other kickers, that were once ahead of him, out of the program.
The one knock on Bohn has been inconsistency, with those PAT misses last year and a few glitches in practice.
"I've been on him pretty hard," acknowledged Arslanian, who directly coaches the kickers. "I've laced into him pretty good."
But Bohn has taken his coach's words to heart, and so far Arslanian has no complaints.
"I think he can be a darn good kicker," said Arslanian. "He's doing a great job for us."