Meet Justin Kahut
June 30, 2009
After spending his first two years at Oregon State learning the ins and outs of kicking from Lou Groza Award winner Alexis Serna, Justin Kahut worked to continue OSU's tradition of dependable kicking, receiving Pac-10 Honorable Mention as well as kicking the game-winning field goal against Arizona. Kahut finished off his sophomore campaign by scoring the only points of the 2009 Sun Bowl and looks to carry that momentum into the upcoming season. Recently, osubeavers.com caught up with Justin to talk about what he learned from Serna, as well as his background as a kicker and the challenges of kicking in the Pac-10.
What did you learn about kicking and playing in the Pac-10 from Alexis Serna?
A lot of technique issues, I learned from Alexis. I came in with a kind of messed-up technique, so Alexis really helped me with getting that straightened out. [Also], a lot of dealing with the mental game I learned from Alexis. He went through a lot of rough times kicking, especially at OSU. I learned how to handle different situations and it was beneficial to me last season.
Do you still keep up with him [Serna]?
Yea, we talk every week. He is one of my best friends, we talk all the time.
What kind of adjustments do you have to make when kicking with an injury?
You try to put it out of your mind. It's kind of hard, because every step and swing you feel it. The bowl game was one time where I really had to put it out of my mind, because it was really hurting me. Your body wants to change the swing and everything when there is an injury, so you have to try and pretend it's not there and kick through it.
What would you be doing if you weren't playing football?
I would just be going to school, probably still here.
How did you get into kicking?
I got into it before my freshman year in high school. I had some buddies on the football team that were joking around telling me I should come out and kick. So I said, 'Okay, I'll give it a try.' My freshman year I went out for the team, tried it out and I wasn't too bad, so I stuck with it. I played that and soccer my freshman year, and then decided I wanted to stick to football after that.
Which kick is harder, the short kick from a hash mark, or a kick from 50 yards out?
Physically the deeper ones are harder, but mentally I would say the short ones from the hash are tough because it's so easy and so short, but it's a tight angle so any little mistake it could go off either way.
How do you balance playing D-1 football and majoring in engineering?
It's tough. You have to try and balance the time and stay organized. I'm not that great at staying organized. So trying to budget time for homework and sleep, a lot of times you don't get a lot of sleep with the amount of homework we get. I just try to use my time wisely, and with any break I have, try to do homework or whatever I have to do.
Describe a typical game day for you in Corvallis?
Usually I sleep through breakfast, just because I like to sleep real late. Then just kind of relax until the game. I watch the games that are on TV, if it is a later game while I am hanging out at the hotel. Then we come through Beaver Walk and everything like that, see the family. Everybody hugs, and then get dressed, go through the warm up, and get a lot of relax time after we warm up because everyone else has to warm up. Then go out there and compete. After the game I usually go out to eat with my family, almost always Mexican food, because we love Mexican food.
Is it harder to kick in the Pacific Northwest as the season goes on?
Definitely. Towards the end of the season you see a big difference in the elevation and the way the ball flies here. You will see teams come up here that were killing the ball back home, but then they come here and see that the ball doesn't fly as well. So it's nice to get those away games to somewhere like Arizona, late in the season where you can get the ball flying.
How much practice does it take to get the long-snapper, holder, and kicker in synch with each other?
It takes some getting used to. Marcus [Perry], and Kav [Taylor Kavanaugh], and I have worked together quite a bit, so when we take time off we can usually pick it up pretty quick. But if there is somebody new it takes getting used to. You want to try and get the snap so that the laces are out for the holder and he doesn't have to spin it. If not, then the holder needs to get used to spinning it and hitting the spot and getting the tilt of the ball and everything right. You have to build up a trust and that takes some time.