A Q&A with Ohio State’s starting kicker from the 2016 season.
Tyler Durbin was one the receiving end of the most-viral email of the 2016 college football season.
Ohio State’s kicker, who went from walk-on to starter on one of the country’s best teams, had a great regular season, but a rough outing in the College Football Playoff.
After making 17 of his first 20 kicks as Buckeye – including three huge ones in a pivotal road win at Wisconsin – Durbin missed two in the 31-0 Fiesta Bowl loss to Clemson.
He then received this email, which received more than 1,000 retweets:
Stay classy pic.twitter.com/Eak3HBhX1p
— OSU Specialists (@BuckSpecialists) January 1, 2017
Durbin, a Fairfax, Va. native, is set to graduate from Ohio State this spring and is currently preparing for a hopeful career in the NFL.
We caught up with the former Buckeye to discuss his preparation for the pros, the mindset a kicker needs to have and that infamous email.
The Spun: How’s preparation for the NFL going?
Tyler Durbin: It’s going really well. It’s been a little tough with time since I’m taking 20 credit hours so I can graduate this semester, but it’s going really well.
TS: So you’ve been training full-time in Columbus then?
TS: How different is it training on your own compared to what it was like being on the team?
TD: It’s been different just because you don’t have to worry about when practice is and when lifting is. You can kind of set your own schedule, which is nice. But it’s also a little tough to get motivated to get up in the morning because you don’t have to be there.
It is a little different particularly because it’s hard to get those game reps. So it’s just been a lot of work on my own, working on fundamentals, mechanics. I’m working a lot with our snapper and holder so I can get some live reps in.
TS: Your college career obviously didn’t end like you wanted it to. How frustrating was that Clemson game?
TD: It was tough. It’s always tough kicking your career-long field goal in the biggest game of your life. It was frustrating. The first (miss), I nicked off the right upright. And then I just overcorrected on the second one. When you’re out at 47 yards, the slightest change of degree can cause you to miss kicks.
So it’s frustrating. But you can’t think about that and have regrets about the season. I’m glad I got to experience it and I’m looking forward to what’s ahead.
TS: How lonely is it after a missed kick?
TD: It’s definitely pretty lonely. But the specialists last year, we had a pretty good group of guys. We were always supporting each other, no matter if we missed a kick or shanked a punt or had a bad snap or anything. We’d always be there for each other.
And even the whole team…during the Michigan game I missed that field goal and everyone on the sideline was supportive and said, ‘You got this, don’t worry about it, we’ll get you another one.’ And they did.
TS: What’s your mindset like after a miss? How do you move on?
TD: The best way is to just move on quick and forget about it. You have to have short memory as a kicker. You have to focus on what you can’t control. You can’t think about not missing the kick. You have to think about things you can control. I always think about relaxing, first of all, and then making contact with the ball, following through, and if I do I should make it.
TS: That email you received from an angry Ohio State fan went really viral. When did you first see it?
TD: I was actually on the bus on the way back to the hotel. I saw the email come up and showed it to the other specialists. They took it and ran with it on the specialists’ Twitter account. I didn’t expect it to blow up as much as it did.
After that, I received at least 100 emails from Buckeye fans, saying we got you, you had a great season, don’t worry about that one guy. Even fans from teams other than Ohio State reached out to me and said don’t worry about it, you had a great season.
TS: The draft is coming up. I know kickers don’t always get picked, but do you have any special plans for next weekend?
TD: I’m actually running a half marathon with my wife that Saturday. Besides that, just hanging out with my wife and staying by the phone.
TS: What are you hoping will happen going forward?
TD: I’m hoping to have some free agent offers. I’m hoping to have an offer from a team I think I have a shot at going in and winning a job. So just hoping for the best and seeing where the next couple of weeks take me.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.