BLOOMINGTON – Indiana senior Mitch Ewald is more than a kicker for the Hoosiers.
Hes a leader for his team. Hes respected in the locker room.
And for a guy at a position not known for speed, Ewald has some pretty good athleticism, too.
You wouldnt expect him to be a kicker at all, senior safety Greg Heban said. Hes got great hands. Hes got good speed. And when were doing drills, you know, working out in the summer with coach (Mark) Hill – ladders, hurdles, change in direction – hes just as good as any of us are.
That might be an overstatement, Ewald said. But the fact remains that he is more than a specialist.
He was the only kicker brought to the Big Ten media days in Chicago for interviews in July, and there was a reason for that, IU coach Kevin Wilson said.
Ewald was easily one of the best representatives of his program.
That kicker over there is one of the best leaders Ive ever been around. When we vote, he gets a bunch of votes, and when he talks, kids will listen, Wilson said of Ewald. He is a leader, and I think a damn good kicker. That guy can help us.
The 5-foot-10 fifth-year senior has aided the program in many ways since he started his career.
Ewald will enter Saturdays game against Bowling Green third all time in career field goals made with 45. He earned the record for extra points with 120 during a 41-35 loss to Navy last Saturday. The place-kicker is also fourth in overall points with 255 and IUs leader in career field-goal percentage.
By the time his senior year is over, Ewald will likely become the all-time leader in field goals and cement his place as the best kicker in IU history. The records for field goals made is 48.
My first role on this team is to be a team leader, secondly just a football player, and thirdly a kicker, Ewald said. Im honored to be up for those awards and those records and stuff like that.
Ewald is also on the watch list for the Lou Groza Award, which is given to the nations top kicker annually. It is his third consecutive nomination for the watch list.
For Ewald, its a lot to take in. When he was a freshman, names like Austin Starr and Pete Stoyanovich were synonymous with success as a specialist in Bloomington. Now, he is about to eclipse them.
Somebody asked me when I was a senior in high school, Whats it going to be like to come in and play after Austin? said Ewald, who redshirted during Starrs senior season. At the time, I was kind of just like, I dont know.
In three-plus seasons, Ewald is 45 for 56 on field goals, or an 80 percent success rate. Thats eighth among active Football Bowl Subdivision kickers and just 4.75 percent away from the No. 1 spot.
Hes missed no more than five kicks in three seasons. And along the way, hes established himself as more than the guy that comes in for a dozen plays a game.
Hes always been a part of just the whole team, Heban said. Hes always been around everybody, a social guy. Hes definitely fun to be around.
Now, with one year left, Ewald is focused on having as much fun as he can.
Along the way, he could break Hoosier records that have stood for two decades.
Its crazy to think about, he said. Thatll be a very humbling experience. I look forward to it.