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Uhlenhake relished role as OSU backup

August 31, 2012
By KIM NORTH - Buckeye Blitz ( , Times Leader

Jeremy Uhlenhake had never kicked a football seriously until he walked on to The Ohio State University football team after graduating from Celina High School.

The Buckeyes already had a future NFL kicker in Mike Nugent, so Uhlenhake was regulated to the backup role.

It just so happened that one of the two years that he was on the team was 2002 when Ohio State advanced to the BCS national championship game and rallied past Miami (Fla.) to bring the crystal ball trophy to Columbus.

Article Photos

FORMER OHIO State backup kicker Jeremy Uhlenhake proudly shows off his 2002 National Championship ring while participating in the recent Jeffrey Showalter Memorial Golf Scramble.

"I couldn't imagine having two better years of my life," Uhlenhake said while participating in the 8th annual Jeffrey Showalter Memorial Golf Scramble at Belmont Hills Country Club. "It was amazing just walking on in coach (Jim) Tressel's first year, and then winning the (national) championship. That is something that I will never forget."

Something else he will never, ever, forget is Tressel himself.

"I loved him. He was a great guy. I didn't like to see him go, but, at the same time, I think Urban Meyer will be a great fit for Ohio State.

"I'd love to see Coach Tressel still there. I really would. Even though I was a backup kicker, he always remembered my name and my parents' names whenever he would meet them. That meant a lot to me, but there is always a time for change and things have to move on."

Uhlenhake said it was a learning process being behind Nugent, who was drafted in the second round by the New York Jets in 2005. He also played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals. He is currently a member of the Cincinnati Bengals.

"Mike taught me a lot, but I like to tell people that I made him the kicker he was because every good starter has to have a good backup," he said with a little laugh. "So, that's what I was. A good backup."

Being from a strictly soccer background in high school, Uhlenhake credits Nugent for taking him under his wing.

"He definitely showed me what it was truly like to kick a football," he added. "I played soccer and never really knew what I was doing when it came to football. I had no idea. I was just kicking with brute strength and getting lucky when the ball would go through the uprights.

"Mike showed me that there was more to kicking a football then just kicking. It's actually a science to some kickers."

When Uhlenhake enrolled at The Ohio State University, he wasn't the first member of his extended family to play for the Scarlet-and-Gray. His cousin, Jeff, was a 4-year starter on the Buckeyes' offensive line, and went on to have a NFL career with the Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints and Washington Redskins.

"I had never met him until I got to Ohio State," Jeremy said of his cousin. He came up to me at a coach's clinic and introduced himself. I told him I had been waiting to meet him."

Jeff is now a member of the Buckeyes' strength and conditioning program.

Jeremy still resides in Celina in western Ohio. He is involved in a packaging supplies business with his father.

"Those memories of that championship season are something that I can show my kids. I will never forget them."



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