Former Bulldog Clint Stitser talks about Fresno State and the life of a NFL kicker
Nov. 1, 2011
FRESNO, Calif. -
Former Fresno State kicker Clint Stitser recently sat down with GoBulldogs.com to update Bulldog fans on his pursuit of a professional career.
Stitser played for the Bulldogs from 2003-07 and made 37 field goals in his career with a long of 52. He scored 223 points and converted over 71 percent of his field goal attempts.
Upon graduating, Stitser went on to a professional career. He signed as an undrafted free agent with the New York Jets out of college. He has also spent time with the Seattle Seahawks, where he played in one preseason game in 2010, and he was with the Washington Redskins for training camp in 2011.
Stitser's big breakthrough into the NFL came at the end of the 2010 season, when the Cinicnnati Bengals signed him to be their kicker for the final five games of the regular season. Stitser went on to make 7-of-8 field goal attempts with a long of 47 for the Bengals.
In 2011, Stitser played in three games for the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League and made all six of his field goal attempts.
GB: In 2010, you signed with the Cincinnati Bengals in late November and made seven field goals in five games. What was that season like for you from going as a free agent to having a very productive five games to end the year?
CS: "It was a complete whirl-wind and quite possibly the adventure of a lifetime! I went from being a high school football coach and real estate professional that kicked a couple times a week into competing at the highest level of the game for a team who had very high expectations of their kicker. It was extremely exciting and fun to be thrown straight into the fire and have to perform for my livelihood. While I say it was fun now, there were definitely times where nerves and uncertainty were present, but thankfully I was able to get those feelings under control come game time."
GB: You are currently looking to sign with an NFL team, what is the process that would have to happen for you to sign with a club?
CS: "The process is simple. There needs to be an opening in the market and I need to be on the minds of the team filling that market. Once a spot opens up, a team will usually call to bring you in for a workout. This is usually fun as you are in the middle of your daily routine and then the phone rings and you have a flight booked to take off within a few hours, and before I can think I have dropped everything and am on a plane headed somewhere else in the country. Once you are there, you are examined by doctors to ensure you physically fit to play football. The workout is usually a scenario where you compete against three to four other kickers attempting to fill this position. Upon being chosen out of the competitors, you are put in a small room while your agent and the team negotiate a contract. One time I sat in an officials locker room for over three and a half hours while negotiations were completed (it ended up being fax issues!). Again, another scenario which creates excitement!"
What do you enjoy most about being a kicker?
"Having the opportunity to have a significant effect on the outcome of the game with every play. Needless to say, this goes both ways. I also love being a part of a team, competing and the lifestyle of training to play football for a living. I love everything about the sport and the person it requires you to be."
GB: Fresno State just got new FieldTurf at Bulldog Stadium. When you were here, it had an all-natural grass surface. Can you describe the difference between kicking off of grass vs. FieldTurf?
CS: "The biggest and most important difference between grass and turf is consistency. Consistency in grade, texture, thickness and of course footing. As a kicker, I prefer FieldTurf as it is usually (sometimes there is bad turf on older fields) one less factor that can affect the kick."
GB: What was your student-athlete experience like here at Fresno State?
CS: "Intense, gratifying and exhilarating. I came to Fresno to be the best student and athlete that I could possibly be, and I lived with tunnel vision for five years where the only things that were on my radar were football and school. It was incredibly fun, rewarding and beneficial, but it did not come without great commitment and work. The greatest part about Fresno State was that I had all of the resources in the world to support my efforts to do whatever I wanted. Whether I needed help in locating an internship, or getting additional coaching for my swing tempo, someone at Fresno State was able to put me in position to succeed. I'm definitely very thankful for the relationships that were built over those five years."
GB: During your senior season in 2007, current Bulldog kicker Kevin Goessling was a redshirt freshman. He has gone on to have success in a Bulldog uniform. Do you take pride in the fact that you not only were a great kicker for Fresno State, but also helped mold another young kicker to follow in your footsteps?
CS: "While at Fresno State, [special teams coach] John Baxter made certain that the previous kicker set the standard and helped the following kicker prepare for their tenure while at Fresno State. Of course I am proud of all that Kevin has done and it has been great to see him continue to succeed on and off the field. In fact, the culture is so strong among kickers at Fresno State, that both Kevin and I still reach out to Brett Vissintainer (the kicker before me) for input and advise when needed."
GB: You made over 71 percent of your field goals at Fresno State. What does it take to be a consistent kicker?
CS:"Focus, confidence in your technique and diligently taking care of your body to prevent chronic injury. There are a million ways to break down a swing and a million things that one can get caught up in thinking about when kicking a football, but at the end of the day, it is the player who has the strongest mind and commitment to his craft that will end up succeeding. As Gary Player put it, `I'll take a player with a strong mind and a good putter over a player with a beautiful swing any day.' "
GB: What is the life like for a NFL kicker?
CS: "NFL and college kickers have become so efficient, that the only time a kicker is really noticed, is when a kick is missed. As you can imagine, this creates a scenario where the expectations are extremely high and patience is extremely low. Therefore, the life of an NFL kicker is one which takes great focus and humility. Having the opportunity to be tested and relied upon on such a large stage is an incredible challenge, which can be greatly rewarding, thus the attraction to the job."
GB: Having been kicking in big games in both college and in the NFL, do you still get nervous when you go out to attempt a field goal?
CS: "Nerves and adrenaline will always be present. The difference between experience and inexperience is the ability to channel this energy positively vs. letting it take over in a negative way. So yes, I still have nerves, but now I am much better at focusing and leveraging them to my advantage."
GB: What is one thing you miss most about Fresno since moving away to pursue your professional career?
CS: "The people and the food. I was blessed to be around great teammates, coaches, administrators and professors and I definitely miss having daily interaction with the people who had such an impact on me during my years at Fresno State. Also, if anyone leaves Fresno and says they do not miss eating at Dog House Grill, they are only kidding themselves in order to control the cravings and withdrawal symptoms."
"We Are Your Team" - Fresno State hosts Louisiana Tech at Bulldog Stadium on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The game is being televised on ESPNU and tickets can be purchased at gobulldogs.com or by calling 278-DOGS.