Everyday Champion -- Justin Kahut
Nov. 5, 2009
Corvallis, Ore. -
If it wasn’t for his scholarship, Justin Kahut may be kicking for another football program. In fact, this Portland native probably would have traveled across the country to attend Bowling Green State University in Ohio and kick for the Falcons.
Instead, Kahut (pronounced K-hoot) took a chance to come to Oregon State University, initially without a scholarship. He proved his ability and last year Beaver head coach Mike Riley called him into his office with the good news.
“That was a big day for me,” Kahut said recalling Riley’s announcement that he had been awarded a “full ride.” “I knew coming to OSU that I was going to have to earn a scholarship; I turned down the Bowling Green offer so I could come here, but I wouldn’t have been able to continue to be a Beaver without it. I’m blessed because I know that there are a lot of college kids who start their lives out with a huge amount of debt, but I won’t because of the generosity of OSU’s athletic donors.”
Kahut has taken full advantage of his opportunities and is on track to graduate with a degree in construction engineering management.
“The biggest key to being successful is being organized and managing your time wisely,” Kahut said of his rather ambitious academic curriculum. “That’s something that has been really difficult for me, honestly, because I’m not really that great at either of those. Being an engineering student and playing football has had its challenges and I notice that I stay up late at night finishing homework.”
Kahut must be doing something right as he owns one of the best grade point averages on the team and is destined for his second straight appearance on the Pac-10 Conference’s All-Academic Team. He does credit a teammate for a lot of his academic success.
“My mentor for me throughout my time at OSU has been my teammate Taylor Kavanaugh,” Kahut said. “Taylor has been through the same engineering program. He is very successful playing football, along with being very organized and on top of things academically. If I ever have questions or concerns, he is the person I turn to.”
Kahut’s picked an outstanding role model, but in reality he’s a great mentor himself.
Continue reading more with Justin Kahut….
Q. How much do you and Alexis Serna (Kahut’s predecessor) talk?
A. “ Alexis and I talk every day; he is interested about how I’m hitting the ball. If I’m having any problems I will go to him for advice.”
Q. What has Coach (Bruce) Read meant to you?
A. “Coach Read has been awesome; he was actually the original coach who recruited me from high school, but then he left. He knows a lot about technique and he has been in the business for a long time. If I ever find myself in a situation that something is going wrong, he has been a great coach with support for me.”
Q. What are some of technical aspects he has taught you?
A. “Coach Read does notice the small things that I tend to do when I’m kicking the ball. In video, he will point out my legs crossing my body a little too much -- he wants me to perform perfectly every time, which I really appreciate.”
Q. What are the toughest conditions to kick in?
A. The toughest conditions to kick in would have to be with the wind. We actually practice a lot with the wind at Reser Stadium. A side wind is when I have to make the most adjustments. If I am feeling one thing, but the flags are telling me something different, that definitely makes it even harder. As to do with the rain, it does not have much of an effect on me, just because I have grown up with it my whole life.”
Q. How did you get started in construction engineering?
A. I started out in general engineering, and then I went to civil and finally ended up in construction engineering management. I made this decision based on conversations with Taylor Kavanaugh; we talked about the different aspects of that major and that lead me in that direction. The opportunity to work with more people just made it more interesting for me.
Q. That’s an ambitious major; how have you been able to succeed?
A. Being an engineering student is a very time consuming ambitious major, but at the same time I’m lucky to have a football coaching staff that understands that I’m here not only to play football, but to also get an education.
Q. Many of the players on the team have difficult majors; does the coaching staff understand that and let individuals work around practice due to academics?
A. One of the things that I have been blessed with is that the coaching staff understands that we are truly student-athletes and we are here to get an education. There are many times when I have classes that go right up until practice, so I’m late, but the staff is really good about understanding that. I don’t have a lot of options sometimes when I can take classes, so I have a set schedule, but the coaches understand this. They always stress do the best you can in practice, but also in the classroom. It’s a good situation.
Q. You came into the program as a walkon; how hard is it being a walkon?
A. Coming here as a walkon was a pretty stressful situation. You have a lot of confidence in yourself coming out of high school because you’re recruited; you want to be known as one of the best kickers in the area. I had the confidence coming in, but it’s also unknown. Am I going to get that scholarship? Am I going to get the opportunity to play? Turning down that scholarship to Bowling Green and other walkon opportunities was a risk I was willing to take, but I didn’t know if it was going to work out in the end. Luckily in the time I have been here I have had the opportunity to work with Alexis Serna. My technique wasn’t very good when I arrived on campus, but I just kept working with Alexis and improving. After my second spring ball Coach Riley told me he was awarding me a scholarship for the next year. It was one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever had.
Q. What’s it like playing for Mike Riley?
A. Playing for Coach Riley is an awesome experience. He’s such a great guy, a great coach, tremendously supportive -- I like everything about him. I’ve missed kicks before -- kicks I shouldn’t have missed, and he understands that that happens and gives me a second chance. With a lot of coaches you’d be out, but coach Riley sticks with his guys. I wouldn’t want to play for anyone else.
Q. Describe what it is like playing in front of Beaver Nation?
A. It’s been really awesome. I’d only been to two Beaver games before I came here and that’s actually one of the reasons I wanted to attend this school. It was a great experience; I saw how into the games the fans are. The fans are really supportive at away games as well; it’s amazing how many fans show up at the opposing stadiums. They’re so loud at those away games you almost feel like you’re at home.
Q. Go back to your first day of school at OSU; do you remember what you felt that day?
A. First day of classes was pretty interesting just because of the nervousness with the college atmosphere. The size of class attendance in college is like 300 students, which made it just a little bit intimidating coming from high school.
Q. What has your experience been like at OSU?
A.” My experience at OSU has been great. Playing on the football team is awesome. The teachers that I have interacted with are great, and the students here on campus are definitely people who I will remain in contact with after I graduate.”