Junior kicker Charles Campbell is fresh off a second-team All-Big Ten selection for IU football in 2020.
But last season is last season, and Campbell has his sights set on being better in 2021. His goal will have to be perfection, since he is 12-13 in his career on field goal attempts and has a career-long kick of 53 yards.
“You’ve got to move forward,” Campbell said in a press conference Thursday. “I did miss a kick and obviously you don’t want to do that.”
Special teams coordinator Kasey Teegardin is using that second-team selection as a motivating factor to push Campbell toward earning a first-team honor at the end of this year. He said having goals keeps the players motivated through the season rather than preseason accolades, when players have yet to prove anything.
Campbell said he loves the mental side of kicking and is focusing on that to improve.
“It’s such a mental position,” Campbell said. “You get put out there and you can hit every kick that you’re put out there to hit, the only thing that changes – it’s not you physically, it’s your mind.”
Campbell works on visualization to help imagine what the field goal will look like before taking the field. Teegardin said the team works with the kickers to help them imagine kicking through the posts when they’re kicking into a net.
In practice, Teegardin says head coach Tom Allen keeps kickers waiting on the sidelines for a chance to kick while the team works drills.
“We try to put them in those game situations as much as possible just for the mental stability of things,” Teegardin said. “[Campbell’s] already a pretty confident young man. His mind is ready to answer the call when called upon.”
The players also have access to a sports psychologist, which Teegardin said not all players choose to utilize.
To keep his mind sharp for each kick, Campbell said he prefers to let his mind go blank.
Campbell said if he focuses on his mechanics too much, he’s more likely to force himself into a mistake by pushing the ball wide or kicking around it.
“I’ve really decided to take my kicking and make it my own,” Campbell said. “If I make my kicking my own, I’m not thinking about technique, I’m just trying to simplify it up. I believe the most simple thing you can do is not think.”
Campbell said over the offseason he’s been working with sophomore punter Chase Wyatt, the new holder for Campbell’s field goals, to work on being as consistent as possible.
Now in his third year kicking at IU, Campbell has embraced a confident attitude in his abilities as a field goal kicker. It also helped him earn Teegardin’s confidence to expand Campbell’s role on kickoffs, too.
Campbell said he’s worked over the offseason both on and off the field on his explosiveness to assist in kicking the ball farther, both for field goals and on kickoffs. He works on the transfer of power in his legs when kicking and lifts weights like a running back to increase his burst ability.
“I love kickoffs,” Campbell said. “You just get up there, smoke the ball and try to just kill it. I approach kickoffs as having fun.”