A week before he became the first kicker selected in the 2020 NFL Draft, Justin Rohrwasser touted his clutch kicking ability in an interview with WOWK-TV.
“Every high-pressure situation I’ve been in, I’ve performed,” said Rohrwasser, whom the New England Patriots nabbed with the 159th overall pick last month. “I’m going to perform. It’s what I work on all the time, making sure my nerves are in check. I believe it’s 14-for-14 in the fourth quarter and overtime. When the game’s on the line, I’m someone you can trust.”
That may be the case. Rohrwasser certainly delivered in Marshall’s Homecoming game last season, drilling a 53-yard field goal as time expired to clinch a 26-23 win over Western Kentucky. He also nailed 31-, 43- and 46-yarders earlier in that game and was true on three consecutive attempts from 53 after being iced twice.
But that 14-for-14 stat line, which other outlets have since shared, isn’t accurate. Far from it, actually.
A look through Rohrwasser’s game logs revealed he attempted just six fourth-quarter field goals in his collegiate career — which he split between Marshall (2018 to 2019) and Rhode Island (2015 to 2016) — and made four of them. The Western Kentucky game-winner was the only field goal he attempted in the final two minutes of any game.
*Made 53-yard FG in fourth vs. Western Kentucky
Missed 45-yard FG in fourth vs. Florida International
Made 35-yard FG in fourth vs. Eastern Kentucky
Made 21-yard FG in fourth vs. Western Kentucky
No fourth-quarter FG attempts
Missed 39-yard FG in fourth vs. Brown
Made 41-yard FG in fourth vs. Delaware
*Final two minutes or overtime
Rohrwasser went 6-for-7 last season on fourth-quarter extra points, which are 13 yards shorter in college than they are in the NFL.
That’s not to say Rohrwasser can’t succeed as Stephen Gostkowski’s replacement. The fifth-round draft pick quietly was one of college football’s most effective kickers in 2019, going 18-for-21 on field-goal attempts (with one blocked) and 35-for-36 on extra points.
After not making a kick longer than 42 yards in his first three collegiate seasons, Rohrwasser converted 7 of 8 from 40-plus and 2 of 2 from 50-plus as a senior, earning Conference USA Special Teams Player of the Year honors.
Rohrwasser put forth another strong performance at Marshall’s pro day, one of the few that were able to take place before the COVID-19 lockdown. With Patriots special teams coach Cam Achord in attendance, he went 12-for-13 on field-goal attempts, according to HerdZone.com, hitting a 58-yarder before pushing a 66-yard bid wide right.
In his post-draft video conference, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said “there’s a lot to like” about the 23-year-old.
“I think like a lot of players, you can see their consistency improve over the course of their career, as they get fundamentally better, get bigger and stronger, grow into their bodies like most college kids do,” Belichick said. “He’s kicked in not great conditions. … He’s got a good leg, kicks the ball straight, has good hang time on the kickoffs, gets it up on the field goals. We’ll see how all that goes now in a little different environment here.”
Assuming Rohrwasser makes the team out of training camp — the likely outcome, given his draft slot — he’ll become just the third Patriots kicker since 1996 to begin a season on New England’s 53-man roster, joining Gostkowski (2006 to 2019) and Adam Vinatieri (1996 to 2005).