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Jake Oldroyd offered the freshman a little bit of advice.
Once the Cougars had played their season opener at Navy, Oldroyd told freshman punter Ryan Rehkow, things would get better, practices would get a lot easier, the nerves would fade away.
“It’s just been some of those, just little pieces of wisdom along the way that Jake’s definitely pointed out to me,” Rehkow said.
Oldroyd will be listed as a sophomore on BYU’s roster this fall. But the kicker, who turns 24 in January, offers the Cougars a big leg on the field and years of wisdom off of it.
Oldroyd first came to Provo from north Texas in 2016, when he redshirted his freshman season and only played in three games. Then the Carroll High School product left to serve a church mission.
The Texas native rejoined the team in 2019 and has become a steady, productive fixture on the Cougars since then.
However, Oldroyd said each year of his career has been so different, he can compartmentalize each season because the program’s been through so many phases. In 2016, BYU had a new coaching staff come in.
“Luckily, I think I was really fortunate to come in when Kalani [Sitake] and the new coaching staff came in for the first year,” Oldroyd said. “So, the start of my career kind of coincided with theirs. It was really fun to feel the energy from the fans and everyone. I had a great year that year. Now, coming back off my mission, it was a great experience to work through the challenges that come with that, getting comfortable playing again.”
In 2019, Oldroyd was trying to get rid of what Sitake commonly refers to as “mission legs,” and in 2020, the Cougars dealt with the pandemic while riding a wave of great success for the first time in more than a decade.
Oldroyd started his career in Provo handling punts, field goals and point-after attempts. Then, last season, Oldroyd took on another big role on the Cougars. He handled 86 kickoffs — more than half of which were touchbacks — and racked up for 5,116 yards on those kicks in the process. The sophomore was a perfect 13 of 13 on field goals, with the longest being 54 yards, made 60 of 62 of his PATs, and was Lou Groza semifinalist.
And it seems Oldroyd has been able to churn out constant production and also has an added role: mentor.
Last year, Rehkow joined the Cougars as the team’s punter. The Veradale, Wash., native instantly bonded with Oldroyd, who helped the new kid on the block navigate not just through his first year, but through the pandemic.
“We point out things to each other. We know what each other is supposed to do, and we’re just there to help each other execute it,” Rehkow said.
Oldroyd said the relationship with Rehkow will continue to be the same as last year. The pair will complete all their workouts, practices and any work outside of team workouts together.
“I’ve played his position before,” Oldroyd said. “So, there’s a lot of information that we trade, we coach each other and I think that chemistry helps us be successful.”
The main difference the pair will face together that differs from last season is the seemingly return to normalcy to the football season.
The Cougars haven’t dealt with any cancelations or major changes to their schedule, which is the toughest yet in the independence era, and don’t have to be tested for COVID-19 three times a week or deal with contact tracing if they are vaccinated, according to director of sports medicine Carolyn Billings.
What Oldroyd is most excited about is to have fans back in the stadium and to have fan experiences again.
“Last year we didn’t get that nearly as much and definitely miss it from years prior,” Oldroyd said. “It’s such a different experience. Going out playing in front of nobody feels like a glorified practice in a way. It’s so different to play in front of 60,000-100,000 [fans], but I definitely love having people there and you can feel the support of the fans behind you when you need it especially.”