Why true freshman Mevis is Missouri’s long-term kicker

After winning a preseason competition, Harrison Mevis has coaches raving about his potential.

When Harrison Mevis stepped up to attempt a 50-yard field goal on Saturday in Rocky Top, a distance not conquered by a Missouri freshman since 1988, he didn’t think much of it.

“It’s just another kick,” Mevis said. “I expect to make every kick that I attempt here, so it was nothing different.”

Mevis’ expectations were correct. He drilled it, booting a line drive that cleared the crossbar by little in height but plenty in distance. Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz, who made Mevis his first starting kicker as a true freshman, didn’t sound all that surprised either.

“He’s stone cold,” Drinkwitz said. “He just goes out there and does his job. The moment’s not too big for him. And he went out there and kicked it.”

Mevis has made each of his four field goals in Missouri’s first two games, including that 50-yarder. He won the Tigers’ kicking competition over Sean Koetting — last year’s backup to Tucker McCann — despite missing the first five or six days of fall practice. While it was an extended competition, the coaching staff saw what they had in Mevis right away.

“Pretty early on, we knew he had the potential,” special teams coordinator Erik Link said. “It was just a matter of seeing how he would adapt and adjust.”

“[In camp, he was doing] the same thing he’s doing now,” Drinkwitz said. “There was one day in practice where he was a little bit all over the place, but other than that, he’s been the same guy. Coach Link does an outstanding job with him. He controls the controllables.”

Koetting, for his part, earned kickoff duties to open the year.

“Sean Koetting is a very capable kicker as well,” Link said. “Obviously, he’s handling our kickoffs and doing a great job there, too. And I think that was a great competition, especially through the last 15, 20 practice of camp, leading up to the season. Those guys pushed each other; it was a very minute difference within that competition.”

Link, who came over with Drinkwitz from Appalachian State and replaced 23-year incumbent Andy Hill, lauded Mevis’ handle on the three main traits he looks for in a kicker: accuracy, leg strength and timing. Link said that much of the operation time of a field goal is the kicker’s responsibility.

What sets him apart for Link, however, is his “laser focus.”

“I think that really helps him block out the noise, block out the distractions and really focus on his job,” Link said. “I think the mental makeup and the mental mindset obviously is extremely important as well.”

While the coaching staff is clearly excited about what they have in Mevis — potentially more trust in their kicker than almost anyone else in the country for the next three to four years — they’re also aware that kicking is a “what have you done for me lately” art.

“The reality of the life of a kicker is that you’re only as good as your last kick,” Link said. “We’re cognizant of that, we’re working and pushing forward and I think his mindset is in the right spot.”

That mindset is something that Link saw when he scouted Mevis at various kicking camps out of high school.

“At the camps, when there’s 150 kickers and punters in one location, you can create somewhat of a competitive environment,” Link said. “You can’t recreate a game, but it’s still good to see how they respond to a competitive environment, and he excels in those areas, I think.”

After his kicking camp and high school career were over, Mevis continued to showcase his ability to respond to a competitive environment in the 2020 Under Armour All-America Game, less than a month after Drinkwitz and Link were hired. Mevis made all three of his field goals in that game, each from 34-36 yards, as well as all three of his extra points.

“We all saw him in the Under-Armor game,” Drinkwitz said. “He’s been the same guy; he’s consistent, and I think that’s really been the thing, consistency, which is what y’all are seeing and what we’re all seeing.”

During the week, reporters asked the question of “how long can he go?” to both Drinkwitz and Link. Drinkwitz said that they’d be confident about anything inside the 35-yard line [what would be a 52 or 53-yard field goal], and Link gave a similar but less definitive answer.

“I think there’s a lot of factors that go into that with each game,” Link said. “Specifically, the weather and wind, which direction you’re going, I think all those play a factor. But I would say we feel pretty comfortable attempting a field goal once we get to the 38, 37-yard line.”

For his part, Mevis said that he has made from 70 yards in practice.

“But I mean, that’s unrealistic,” Mevis said. “I mean, probably.”

Edited by Maia Bond | mbond@themaneater.com

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