The life of a football place kicker is said to be a lonely existence. It’s a one-function responsibility that often means the difference between winning and losing.
Some kickers are manic. Some kickers aloof. Some are colorful.
As UC Davis prepares to enter its second season in the Big Sky Conference, Aggie field-goal specialist Brady Stuart is confident, personable and reliable.
Stuart, a junior by way of West Ranch High in Newhall, is coming off of a record-setting season during which his field goals became more and more important as the season progressed.
UCD finished 5-7 while the former prep soccer player hit 17 field goals (a new school benchmark) and at one point converted 10 straight.
In two years, he’s 32-of-46.
Stuart, 21, took some time after a recent practice to chat about Aggie football as it relates to him.
“I’ve changed (from when) I first arrived in college,” Stuart told The Enterprise. “I was really wrapped up in college, the fact that we’re a Division I program and I had to be on point with everything. But now … I’ve just learned a lot, especially how to stay calm in certain situations.
“I’m not the same kid I was when I came in. I’m much more calm: if I miss a kick, I’m on to the next one. That (missed) kick won’t bother me.”
Stuart, who has been named to both the Fred Mitchell and College Football Performance Award watch lists — which point to the top kickers among Football Championship Subdivision squads — said he pays little attention to the accolades.
“I try to let them go,” explained the 5-11, 163-pound right-footer. “Sure, I’m excited by (the notoriety), but I don’t try to get into it.
“It’s nice to hear about them, sometimes my parents give me a call and we talk about them … but I’ll get the article and put it in my filing cabinet.”
So what is Stuart’s routine during games?
For the most part, he’s a spectator. When the Aggies start driving, he becomes more intent. When UCD is in the attack zone, Stuart buckles his helmet.
“I’m not thinking about game-winning kicks on the sidelines,” he said. “Family is usually in the stands, so I make sure I look at them. Point to them, then we both acknowledge each other like something’s coming up. Then I start thinking about how I can help the team.”
Then comes the simple warm-up …
Using a one-step approach on the sideline. Stuart gets his hamstring flexible then starts kicking in the net.
“Then I start thinking how happy my teammates will be when we win the game,” he added with a chuckle.
So what does Stuart think about those last-second timeouts opposing coaches call in attempt to ice kickers?
“That doesn’t bother me at all. In fact, I think it actually helps. I think every kicker will agree. At the very least, we get to warm up longer.”
Brady is the youngest of six children born to Teri and Mike Stuart.
His four brothers (Brandon, Blake, Shane and Derek) have work in the entertainment industry (Dreamworks and ET) and his sister Taryn is an event planner.
A communications major, Stuart hopes his new-found interest in photography and videography will provide him with a career path after football.
But right now, it’s all Blue and Gold and trying to do his part to help UCD improve on a 5-3 Big Sky Conference record and maybe give himself a chance at some big kicks in the postseason.
Notes: Stuart’s Aggie career-best field goal is 47 yards. He says he kicked it between the uprights from 61 in practice at West Ramch High. “I’m comfortable from whatever distance they put me in.” … Freshmen Justin Garza and Grant Hilton are working as UCD long snappers. Corey Galindo, London Lacy and Colby Wadman are sharing practice time holding for Stuart. … On Wednesday, the Aggie football team visited Shriners Hospital for Children in Sacramento. It marked the annual visit for UCD players and coaches each August, talking and playing games with the patients and learning about the important work being done by Shriners Hospitals. Senior offensive tackle Ian Joseph said the team’s annual visit has become an Aggie highlight and something he looks forward to every year. “The biggest thing for me is opening each other’s eyes to the world beyond football,” he said. “During camp, we zero in to what we’re doing and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But sometimes we get so much inside our own bubble that we don’t realize how great we have it and how much we have to be grateful for.” Joseph is majoring in anthropology and is eyeing a career in medicine. While a trip to Shriners Hospital might give him insight to his future, that’s not the reason he loves going. “I’m not there for me, I’m there for them,” he said.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or 530-320-4456.