Specialists Jake Oldroyd and Ryan Rehkow on their goals for 2022 season, prospects of returning in 2023
The good friends have formed one of the top punter-kicker duos in the country while playing for BYU the past few years
In between chats with reporters at BYU’s football media day last month, kicker Jake Oldroyd and punter Ryan Rehkow debated the place in history of the movie “Top Gun: Maverick.”
Rehkow said it instantly became one of his five favorite movies; Oldroyd wasn’t as impressed, saying it might not even be in his top 30. The movie “American Underdog,” which is the biography of former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner, is “the best movie I’ve seen this year,” Oldroyd said.
Not coincidentally, the upcoming 2022 football season will determine the good friends’ place in BYU football history. Oldroyd is embarking on his fifth year in Provo and has said it will be his last season although he technically could play another; Rehkow is entering his fourth year and isn’t as certain, saying he is taking a “wait and see” approach.
“You gotta strike when the iron is hot. So hopefully I go out, have a great season, and am wanted (by the NFL). But it is not like I am in a rush to get out of here.” — BYU punter Ryan Rehkow
“This is it for me, just because of where I am at in life, in school,” said Oldroyd, who married a woman from Tennessee, Laney, last winter and will graduate this fall in accounting and Spanish. “I would love to play professionally, but we will see where that goes.”
Rehkow, who expects to graduate next spring in finance, said he hopes to have some “options” when the 2022 season ends.
“You gotta strike when the iron is hot,” he said. “So hopefully I go out, have a great season, and am wanted. But it is not like I am in a rush to get out of here.”
A year ago, BYU special teams coach Ed Lamb told the Deseret News that Oldroyd and Rehkow formed the top kicker-punter duo at one school in the country. Their numbers from the 2020 season proved that, Lamb said.
Rehkow lived up to the billing in 2021, averaging 48.6 yards on his punts (up from 45.1 his freshman season) and pinning opponents inside the 20-yard-line 16 times on 40 attempts. His highlight was a BYU modern-day record punt of 83 yards against Arizona State. He was named the Pro Football Network Independent Punter of the Year.
Because BYU’s offense was so successful, and also because head coach Kalani Sitake likes to go for it on fourth down a lot, Rehkow only punted 3.1 times per game. Punters must have 3.6 punts per game to qualify for the national rankings, so Rehkow’s name isn’t prevalent on some lists.
What motivates the 6-foot-6, 235-pounder from Veradale, Washington, this year?
“I think the key to being a specialist is being motivated and never satisfied,” he said. “There is always room for improvement. We strive to be the best. We try to go out and prove that every single game, every single attempt. We are just hungry for that, we are hungry to assert that.”
Ryan Rehkow expressed confidence in Jake Oldroyd to have a bounce-back season in 2022. pic.twitter.com/1ZadJyTwqr— Benjamin Criddle (@CriddleBenjamin) March 25, 2022
Rehkow, who was on the preseason watch list for the 2021 Ray Guy Award and almost certainly will be again this year, said his personal goals are to improve his net punting yards and “be on the same page” with his coverage team and long snappers Austin Riggs and Britton Hogan.
“Honestly, the goal is to just pin teams deep and give our defense the best shot to put those teams in quick three-and-outs and make opposing offenses have to go a long ways,” he said. “We are striving for perfection and we are all in this together. The biggest goal is to execute every time.”
A balky back kept Oldroyd, who handles kickoffs, field goals and PATs, from having the season that was expected of him, and he missed three of the Cougars’ 13 games: Arizona, Arizona State and South Florida.
Still, he was 9 of 13 on field goal attempts (69%) and 2 of 4 on FG tries from 40 yards or longer. He nailed a 49-yarder against Utah State in the 34-20 BYU win in Logan.
He made a 21-yard field goal that sealed the 26-17 win over Utah and was 42 of 43 on his PAT attempts.
Oldroyd said the fact that he wasn’t perfect in 2021 like he almost was in 2020 (13 of 13 on FG attempts; 60 of 62 on PATs) drives him this year.
As for his personal goals, he said every kicker has the goal of making every kick. No surprise there. But they have to be realistic, he said, because variables such as weather conditions and length come into play.
“Misses are usually inevitable over the course of a season, so a goal that I do have is to never miss two in a row,” he said. “To be able to bounce back from a miss, put it aside and always make the next kick is big. We will leave it at that.”
When Oldroyd couldn’t go last year, walk-on kicker Justen Smith filled in admirably. The Brighton High product made two field goals and 11 PATs in 2021.