Jake Oldroyd has a leg up in BYU’s starting kicker competition

BYU place kicker Jake Oldroyd (39) celebrates with fans after an NCAA college football game against Arizona, Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016, in Phoenix. BYU defeated Arizona 18-16. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Provo • BYU kicker Jake Oldroyd made himself known to BYU fans when he kicked a game-winning 33-yard field goal against Arizona in 2016.

The returned missionary seems determined to make sure that kick isn’t his only big moment for the Cougars, especially since he is a little more prepared going into the 2019 season.

Back then, Oldroyd was such a last-minute addition to the travel roster he didn’t even have the proper BYU cleats, but kicked in his old high school cleats.

This time around, Oldroyd has the advantage of being with the Cougars since spring ball, so he not only has the right gear, but a lot of reps, too.

He apparently is making good on his opportunities and has an advantage in the competition for the starting role over returner Skyler Southam, according to BYU special teams coordinator Ed Lamb.

“We could have a new starter every day, but right now he has a slight edge,” Lamb said of Oldroyd. “He wasn’t with us last year but has been very accurate.”

Oldroyd’s 2016 season ended abruptly as he played in just three games, going 3 of 4, before he was sidelined with a back injury.

Having the season end unexpectedly, plus being away from football while he served his mission in Chile, has made Oldroyd savor his time on the field now, and he is embracing his competition with Southam.

“It has been awesome so far,” he said. “We’ve spent a lot of time together as a group and I feel fortunate to be able to participate in that, and we are starting to see a lot of the hard work we put in the offseason pay off now.”

Lamb said he isn’t one to name a starter to let a player get comfortable, and that uncertainty seems to be fine with Oldroyd, who said he loves the competition with Southam.

“It’s not a rivalry but a friendly competition, and Skyler is an amazing athlete,” he said. “I’m fortunate to have someone like that to work with because it definitely pushes me to be better.”

For his part, Southam echoed his teammate’s thoughts on competition. Southam had a solid showing in 2018 as a freshman, going 11 of 16 in field goal attempts with a long of 47 yards, but admits he still has plenty of areas in which to work.

“I haven’t been perfect but I’m learning from my mistakes and trying to get better,” he said. “All of us have the potential to play in a game, so that is pushing us to get better.”

Southam said he spent the offseason working on his technique, knowing he needed to be more consistent from 40-plus yards since he was 0 of 5 from that distance last year.

“I know I’m capable of doing more, so I’ve been working on the mental preparation,” he said. “There are plenty of moments to learn from and that is why we are here, to get better each day in practice.”

Lamb likes the fact that both kickers have experience, but said it didn’t matter to him that Oldroyd has been away from the game longer.

“He wasn’t with us last year, but that doesn’t matter,” he said. “He has made some big kicks.”