Powell missed the first five field goal attempts of his junior season and didn’t convert one until WSU’s sixth game. But he’s made 28 of 33 since and was a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award this season.
Twice this season, in what’s been the best year of his career, Washington State kicker Erik Powell has extended his career-long in field goals.
He converted a 52-yard field goal against Oregon, matched that at Cal, then knocked a 56-yarder between the uprights against Arizona with room to spare.
“I like to say that kick would have been good from 62,” Powell says.
That 56-yarder put WSU’s senior kicker in elite company as one of only four FBS kickers who have successfully converted field goals of more than 55 yards this season.
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Three of those four kickers play in the Pac-12. Arizona’s Lucas Havrisik leads the group thanks to his 57-yard conversion against the Cougs — the longest in FBS football this season.
Powell’s 56-yarder against Arizona ties him with Utah’s Lou Groza Award-winning kicker Matt Gay, and Pitt’s Alex Kessman for the second-longest FBS field goal this year.
As WSU special teams coach Eric Mele will attest, Powell has always had a big leg. But finding consistency this year was a game-changer for Powell, who, in his final season, has surpassed all expectations, going 19 of 23 on field goals and finishing as a Lou Groza Award semifinalist and All-Pac-12 second team selection, with three Pac-12 Special Teams player of the week awards.
With just the Holiday Bowl game against Michigan State remaining, Powell sits in third place behind WSU’s Drew Dunning and Jason Hanson in career field goals made (50) and points (312).
Powell’s surge toward the top of WSU’s all-time kicking ranks is even more remarkable considering how miserably his junior season started – the Cougs’ kicker missed his first five field goal attempts and didn’t convert one until WSU’s sixth game – a 36-yarder against UCLA.
“I don’t think anyone has ever cheered that loud after a first quarter make. But it was good to finally get over that hump,” Powell says, reflecting back. “And Mele did a really good job of helping to make sure I was keeping my head up and stuff like that, he had a lot of confidence in me, which really helped.”
That conversion against UCLA shook Powell out of his slump, and he converted nine of his final 10 field…