Sturgis Looking To Get His Kicks At The Next Level

Posted Jun 19, 2013

Fifth-round pick out of Florida understands pressure of position.

Kicking a football through a set of uprights involves the same basic elements at all levels – a good snap, a good hold and a strong and accurate leg. Caleb Sturgis has never blinked at the challenge.

That leg strength, accuracy and intense focus are what convinced Miami Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland to spend a fifth-round draft pick at the end of April on the confident kid out of the University of Florida. Ireland was a kicker at Baylor before starting his successful climb up the personnel side of the NFL ladder.

“Well, he’s got a big leg. The ball jumps off his foot. He’s very accurate,” said Ireland the day he made Sturgis one of three Florida Gators taken by Miami (linebacker Jelani Jenkins and running back Mike Gillislee were the other two). “He’s kicked a lot of field goals in some tight situations and we liked his consistency and his makeup for pressure situations.”

By signing with the Dolphins, Sturgis got to join a handful of his teammates that never had to leave the Sunshine State since first putting on a football helmet, including Gillislee and third-year center and ex-Gator Mike Pouncey. He actually was born in nearby Boca Raton and attended St. Augustine High School, where he lettered in football and soccer before sticking with football in Gainesville.

So far, between the three-day rookie minicamp, three OTAs and the final mini camp, Sturgis has not disappointed on the outdoor practice fields or inside the practice bubble. His kicks from beyond 49 yards have easily cleared the uprights with plenty of room to spare, but he knows performing in live game situations is vastly different.

“I was very fortunate that I played in the SEC,” Sturgis said. 
“I think it’s very good football, but it’s one step better here. You take all those best athletes and you put them on these teams and take the best athletes from other conferences, so it’s definitely a touch faster.”

Something else that will be different for Sturgis is the competition he will face for his job. Unlike in high school and college, when the job was his from the start, he will have to battle established veteran kicker Dan Carpenter, who made the Pro Bowl after the 2009 season.

Sturgis was an All-American in each of his last two seasons at Florida and a finalist for the Lou Groza Award as a junior. He set school records for career field goals (70) and attempts (88) and is third in school history in total points (340). Carpenter, an undrafted free agent out of Montana, set a Dolphins franchise record for most consecutive field goals by a rookie in 2008 with 14 and is in the top five overall in a number of other categories.

“I’m just looking forward to the competition,” said Sturgis, who was on the golf course when he got the phone call from Ireland on the last day of the 2013 NFL Draft. “I think that’s what they try to bring here at every position and I’m looking forward to it. I know Dan is one of the best kickers in the NFL and nothing’s given in this league. I know that coming in, and I just want to help the team anyway I can.”

So while Sturgis is taking the humble approach to the competition, he also has revealed one of the secrets to his success when the game is on the line.

“I like to think I’m calm under pressure,” he said. “I try not to consider any of them pressure kicks. You want to look at every one the exact same, including practice. Every kick counts. I think that’s the mentality you have to go about, no matter what the situation is.”