Naturally, Oklahoma senior Austin Seibert wants his kicks to split the uprights. Seibert isn’t referring to just his field-goal attempts, however.
The Sooners’ talented three-legged specialist is alluding to every kick from his team’s 35-yard line. Seibert wants each kickoff to be the equivalent of a 75-yard (non-)field goal.
All but 10 of his kickoffs have been touchbacks so far this season (one was an on-side kick; one went out of bounds), but Seibert said he wanted that total to be zero. “I wouldn’t say I get angry,” Seibert explained, “but if they bring it out or it’s not a touchback, I’m like, ‘OK, that shouldn’t have happened.’ My goal every time is to kick it through the uprights.”
Seibert leads the nation in kickoff touchbacks with 61 and said he believes eight of those indeed have sailed through the uprights.
Seibert is one of only three FBS players being used this season as his team’s primary kicker in all three phases field goals, punts and kickoffs. The other two are San Jose State’s Bryce Crawford and Rice’s Jack Fox. Coincidentally, Seibert played baseball with Fox growing up in St. Louis.
This is the third straight season Seibert has pulled triple-duty and each kick requires a different leg swing.
“Sure, I’ve definitely been hesitant with it,” Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said of allowing Seibert to start at all three positions. “You’d rather not do it, but he’s so good at all three. Plus, knowing the kid, his psyche, his mental toughness, his work ethic. You’d be concerned with most guys, but he’s been able to do it at an extremely high level. He’s been tremendous for us.”
“[Being OU’s all-time leading scorer] sounds really cool. I’m not going to lie. It’s a dream come true, really.”
– Austin Seibert
Seibert said the key to winning three starting roles was, “Having a strong mindset and surrounding myself with people who believe in me. You also have to have that chip on your shoulder that no one is going to take your spot.”
Seibert’s entire body of work is beginning to dominate both the OU and Big 12 Conference record books.
Heading into Saturday’s contest against Oklahoma State, Seibert needs just four points to tie the Sooners’ career scoring record of 450 points, held by kicker Michael Hunnicutt (2011-14). Seibert needs just five points to tie the Big 12 career scoring record of 451 points, shared by Baylor’s Aaron Jones (2010-13) and TCU’s Jaden Oberkrom (2012-15).
And when this time arrives possibly this weekend Seibert can be referred to as OU’s all-time leading scorer in football.
“Sounds really cool. I’m not going to lie,” Seibert said. “It’s a dream come true, really. It’s awesome. It (the scoring record) is going to come. I’ve just got to keep making kicks.”
The Sooners scored seven touchdowns in last Saturday night’s 51-46 victory at Texas Tech, allowing Seibert to become the NCAA career record holder for extra points made (281) and attempted (285).
Seibert also extended his streak of consecutive extra-point makes to 151 dating back to 2016. It was three games ago when Seibert broke the school record of 134 straight conversions held by Uwe von Schamann (1976-78).
Seibert currently ranks eighth in FBS history in career scoring among kickers and needs five points to move into the Top 5. The all-time record is 494 points by Arizona State’s Zane Gonzalez (2013-16).
Seibert also ranks second at OU in career field goals made (55) and point-after percentage (.986), fourth in career field-goal percentage (.775) and fifth in career punting average (41.8).
Asked which record would mean the most upon his departure, Seibert ignored his placekicking, punting and kickoff stats and instead chose the number four.
“I want to win another Big 12 championship,” Seibert said without hesitation. “Winning four of those in a row would be a really incredible mark to have. Records aside, just winning and keeping the tradition alive is what I want to leave behind.”
Though he had high expectations when he selected OU, Seibert quietly admitted he did not anticipate four straight Big 12 titles, primarily because the Sooners were fresh off an 8-5 season in 2014 when he committed out of Belleville (Ill.) West High School.
Seibert has been kicking since age 7. “I’ve always had a strong leg,” he said.
But even the strongest legs need rest and Seibert acknowledges the importance of a proper workout and recovery regimen. “We’ve got a pretty precise schedule for me to do that stuff and make sure my legs are fresh,” he said.
Seibert is notoriously meticulous in his preparation. He carefully measures his approach path on each kick. “That helps me stay consistent because if you stay consistent, it’s easier to figure out what goes wrong and easier to fix,” Seibert said. “It helps me psychologically and helps me get into my rhythm and my routine.”
During pre-game warmups, Seibert will kick from an end zone sideline and deliberately try to hit the closer upright. “Aim small, miss small,” Seibert explained. “It’s like shooting a gun. You pick out something small and you aim for it. I’m just trying to narrow my accuracy.”
Having made 9 of 11 (.818) field goals this season, Seibert is short of his goal of converting at least 90 percent on field goals.
“Of course, I want to make them all,” Seibert said. “Sometimes it won’t go through, but that’s part of the game.”
One of Seibert’s misses this season came from 33 yards out on the last play of regulation against Army before a stunned crowd on Sept. 22 in Norman. The Sooners went on to win 28-21 in overtime.
“That was a kick that was in my wheelhouse,” Seibert explained. “I didn’t let it define me because at the end of the day, this is a game and that’s a growing opportunity. I think that helped me. Doing all three (kicking duties), you’re going to have different types of adversity. Would you rather have a kicker who has never had adversity or would you rather have someone who has been through it? I’d take the guy who goes through that stuff because they know how to handle it. That’s how I look at it.”
Seibert said his most challenging chore is “just staying loose and into the entire game at all times. As soon as you get sidetracked, that’s when you lose your focus. Staying zoned in and not over-kicking during the game (are the most important factors).”
This relentless focus helps explain why Seibert was selected as a team captain this season.
“That’s rare for a kicker,” Riley said of Seibert’s captaincy. “That’s rare for a specialist to be able to do that. He’s had a big impact on this team both on and off the field.”
Seibert admitted, “I was really surprised when they called out the captains. I really took that to heart. I might not be the guy who’s very vocal in the locker room, but I do put the work in. I work really hard at what I do and other people vouch for that. It’s the behind-the-scenes stuff.”
“I want to win another Big 12 championship. Winning four of those in a row would be a really incredible mark to have. Records aside, just winning and keeping the tradition alive is what I want to leave behind.”
How does Seibert battle nerves in his high-pressured roles? “I get butterflies before a game but during a game, no,” Seibert said. “Once you go out there, they just go away and your technique takes over. The game I was probably most nervous about was Tennessee (a 31-24 double-overtime victory in Knoxville) my freshman year (in 2015) because I had never been in an environment like that. As soon as you get out there, though, your adrenalin takes over and you’re all right.”
What about kicking in Ohio Stadium during the Sooners’ 31-16 victory at Ohio State last season? “I didn’t think ‘The Horseshoe’ lived up to its hype,” Seibert casually replied.
Next week’s home game against Kansas will be Senior Day, but not in Seibert’s eyes. “I’m looking at the Big 12 championship as my Senior Day,” Seibert said. “I don’t know why I wouldn’t. That’s our goal.
“The records are awesome to have. It has been a dream. I wanted to leave my name in the record books here because it is such an historical program. That being said, I don’t get those records and I don’t break records without a strong surrounding cast of teammates and a team that wins. I have to give them credit, too, because this is (with) some of their help. It’s really cool that I get credit for that.”