PROVO — Skyler Southam introduced himself in a big way to most BYU fans on Sept. 15 of last season with one of the most memorable kick conversions in recent memory. The venue was Camp Randall Stadium and the opponent was then-No. 6-ranked Wisconsin, with Southam's kick proving critical in securing a big 24-21 upset win.
"It was awesome and definitely one of my favorite parts of the season and a moment I'll remember," Southam said. "I remember missing one earlier, so it was great coach trusted me to put me out there again as a true freshman and fortunately we were able to come through."
Southam missed on a 52-yarder earlier in the tightly contested game versus the Badgers, a miss that could easily be forgiven given the distance, but made true on his final attempt. That attempt came from a distance of 45 yards with just under 10 minutes remaining in a 21-21 tied game.
"I remember being a little bit nervous before attempting that first kick, but I definitely wanted to get back out there to redeem myself and I was just so happy to be able to help my team there," Southam said.
Having a kicker who can make true on long field goals during critical situations is a luxury BYU has played without for quite a while, with Southam hoping to add to his Wisconsin heroics again and often in the future.
But he'll have competition in gaining that opportunity.
At least that's the way the Wasatch High School product chose to view things throughout this past spring practice session. The return of Jake Oldroyd from mission service for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints adds to a competition for the place-kicking spot, which isn't viewed as a bad thing by coaches or by Southam himself.
"There's some really good competition and the spot is open. That's how I look at it," Southam said. "So it's awesome having that competition to push me and to motivate me to get better."
BYU assistant head coach and special teams coordinator Ed Lamb would agree.
"Those two guys are true professionals," Lamb said about both Southam and Oldroyd, the latter of whom saw success as a freshman before incurring a season-ending injury. "They both pour everything into their craft. They work like crazy and so far they've been a strength for one another, and hopefully that continues."
Southam has enjoyed a full offseason to get back into prime shape for the coming season after returning home from his own mission service just prior to last year, and has already shown good strides.
"His ball seems to have a better altitude from the moment he kicks it. He has a better trajectory," Lamb said. "So that looks really good and he's quickened-up his operation time. He doesn't look rushed right now."
Southam believes he's been able to extend his field goal range a field a few yards, which could lead to coaches allowing even longer attempts.
"I feel comfortable inside of 55 yards, which is about four or five yards further than I did last year, probably," Southam said. "I mean, I can kick further than 55 yards for field goals, and have done so in the past, but my comfort range is probably inside of 55 yards right now."
Another improvement Southam hopes to make is handling kickoff responsibilities.
"I wasn't able to do that last year, but it's definitely a goal of mine this year," he said. "I want to be a better-rounded kicker and hope to have enough distance and accuracy not just with field goals, but with kickoffs, too."