Just Like Any Other Day For Sturgis

Posted Aug 15, 2013

Rookie insists it is business as usual at Dolphins practice in his first day as the starting kicker.

Rookie Caleb Sturgis insisted it was business as usual at Dolphins practice Thursday even now that he’s the only kicker on the team.

As evidence to support his claim, he spoke to reporters after practice holding punter Brandon Fields’ jersey and helmet.

“I’m still a rookie,” Sturgis said. “Fields just handed me his stuff, just like any other day.”

Even though he did his best to downplay it, things clearly are different for Sturgis and the Dolphins special teams now that veteran Dan Carpenter’s contract has been terminated.

Sturgis, fresh off a preseason debut during which he made a 58-yard field goal and put all six of his kickoffs in the end zone, has won the kicking job.

“We just felt this was the right opportunity to do it for both parties,” Head Coach Joe Philbin said. “Caleb Sturgis is going to need time to practice and prepare. The more game-like situations he can get in, the better. We felt it was the right time for both (Sturgis and Carpenter).

“We like what (Sturgis) has done. I liked his demeanor on the sideline during the game the other night. He was very professional. He wasn’t jumping up and down. He just did his job well. He’s very serious about what he’s doing.”

Sturgis’ appointment as kicker means the Dolphins will have a new face among their specialists for the first time since 2008 when Carpenter joined long snapper John Denney, who arrived in 2005, and Fields, who was a seventh-round draft pick in 2007.

Sturgis was very respectful of Carpenter from the time he arrived in the spring after being selected in the fifth round of the 2013 draft, and that certainly didn’t change after he won the job.

“Dan is an unbelievable player and I have a lot of respect for him,” Sturgis said. “All three of those guys have been great, just great guys to learn from. They’ve done everything right.

“I didn’t really have much expectations for anything. Again, all you can really focus on is trying to be better individually and try to form a good relationship with Brandon and John and doing our jobs well.”

Being named the Dolphins’ kicker is the culmination of a dream that Sturgis said he had as a kid but didn’t really become realistic until he started playing high school.

His high school career began as a sophomore and led him to the University of Florida, where he became one of the best kickers in college football the last two years.

“It’s any kid’s dream,” Sturgis said. “I always wanted to play in the NFL. I thought I wanted to be a tight end, but I never really grew into that.

“When I started (in high school), my kicking coach at the time, Dan Mowrey, he told me it’s something I could do, at least get my education paid for. That’s all I really wanted to take it for at that point.”

Kicking became so much more for Sturgis after he made 85.1 percent of his field goal attempts the past two seasons, including a tremendous 8-for-13 showing from 50 yards and beyond.

Sturgis was a finalist for the Lou Groza Award, given to the top kicker in college football each of the last two seasons. After going 24-for-28 in 2012, with three of the misses being blocked attempts, he became the first and one of only two kickers selected in the 2013 draft.

From the time he started practicing with the Dolphins, Sturgis’ leg strength became evident. The 58-yard field goal against Jacksonville was just another piece of evidence. But where does the leg strength come from for a guy who stands only 5 feet 9, 190 pounds?

“I don’t know,” Sturgis said. “My dad was a tennis player, so I don’t know.”

Sturgis does come from an athletic family. Sturgis said his father ended up playing tennis in college at a small school, while his brother, Nathan, is a midfielder for the Colorado Rapids in his eighth season in Major League Soccer (MLS).

While Caleb says he scored his share of goals as a soccer player at St.Augustine High School and for the Julington Creek club, he says he can’t come up with a crowning moment for himself in that sport.

Football? Sturgis has had his share of highlights. One that stands out was being named SEC co-Special Teams Player of the Year in 2012 along with South Carolina kick returner Ace Sanders, who is now a rookie with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Another was making a 56-yard field goal, the longest of his collegiate career, against Georgia as a sophomore in 2009.

He’s hoping to add more highlights in a Dolphins uniform. On the day after he won the job, though, there would be no field goal attempts for Sturgis. And no time for celebration.

“There’s no celebrating this,” Sturgis said. “Again, it’s every day you come out here, you need to get better because there’s a lot of people that want to be in the position you’re in.

“John and Brandon are the best in the business at what they do, so (I’m) trying to fit in with them and try to do my job as well as I can do it.”
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