FARGO — By the time North Dakota State football practice began in the first week of August, kicker Griffin Crosa felt somewhat like a veteran player. Yet, the roster showed him to be a true freshman.
That was the benefit of graduating from high school early in Powell, Ohio, and enrolling at NDSU for the spring semester. He participated in spring football, got introduced to the strength and conditioning program and spent the summer working out with the rest of the team.
Crosa adapted to Fargo rather quickly, and that thought hit him last March when he returned from a Spring Break trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C., with a couple high school buddies and his father.
“I came back here and I was like, this really feels like my home now,” Crosa said.
Now the question is if he’ll feel at home on the football field. Crosa began the season as the backup to sophomore Jake Reinholz, who suffered a leg injury on the opening kickoff against Butler University (Ind.) that put Crosa immediately into action.
He responded going a perfect 7 of 7 on extra points. Last week against the University of North Dakota, he nailed all five of his PAT kicks and got his first career field goal, a 27-yarder early in the third quarter. It gave the Bison a 24-7 lead and just as important, it kept the Bison momentum going after safety Michael Tutsie intercepted a Fighting Hawks pass on the opening drive of the second half.
Crosa didn’t get to keep the ball like a baseball player hitting his first home run or a hockey player getting their first goal.
“But hopefully here soon,” he said.
That would mean kicking a field goal of game-changing proportions. The next chance comes Saturday when the Bison travel to the University of Delaware for a noon (CST) nonconference game. Kicking in front of 34,000 mostly-home fans at Target Field or almost 20,000 fans at Gate City Field at the Fargodome is one thing; life now gets different on the road in what is expected to be a hostile environment for the visiting Bison.
“I think my confidence is pretty good right now, especially after that first field goal,” Crosa said. “It was good to get that out of the way and hopefully I can get some more field goal attempts soon.”
It’s debatable what the Bison coaching staff sees as Crosa’s range. NDSU went for a first down early in the fourth quarter when faced with fourth-and-6 as opposed to a possible 46-yard field goal attempt.
“Right now, Griffin has done an excellent job and we’ll continue to evaluate what his range is,” said Bison head coach Matt Entz. “It’s critical to give him makeable kicks early so as to get his confidence up. He’ll continue to hit it well.”
Crosa had a career long in high school of 46 yards. The competition with Reinholz began last spring and extended into August. Reinholz earned the job based on a stronger leg and the fact he’s beginning his third year in the program.
Crosa signed with NDSU hoping to win a job as a true freshman.
“I wanted to come in and have an impact right away on a program,” he said. “Obviously, with Jake going down, you don’t want to see anyone go down because it’s not fun for anyone, but I’m glad to be able to step up and help out.”