Updated: Feb 27
On Thursday, August 6th, QBV was able to interview with former Boise State and DC Defenders kicker Tyler Rausa. Rausa holds numerous records for kicking at Boise State and has kicked professionally in Arena Football as a member of the Mass Pirates and in the XFL.
Tyler Rausa helped teach us more about special teams, which is often times overlooked in Football to the untrained eye. However, real Football minds know how vital it is in the game of Football. Kickers and special teams players are misunderstood players and Rausa told us all about the importance of long snappers, holders and the big men up front.
Tyler Rausa is looking for his shot to make the NFL. His tape and his stats prove that he truly does belong in the NFL and we are confident he will get his chance sooner rather than later, let's take a look at the interview!
What are your thoughts on the XFL coming back?
“Honestly I feel like it’s the best-case scenario. It comes from a guy, The Rock, who has a reputation that everybody loves the guy. It’s kind of hard not to like the guy, you may not like his movies, but overall as a person, from where he comes from, what he is now, and he has a football background as well.
Obviously, he was in the NFL for a hot second, then he went to the CFL for a hot second and that was kind of his first dream, to be a Football guy. For him to take over the league and for that cheap as well, it’s a win-win scenario for everybody...”
What is your advice to athletes right now during the middle of COVID
“Find a way! The circumstances aren’t great right now, but you need to find a way to get 1% better every single day and it doesn’t matter how it looks, it doesn’t matter if it is something that looks dumb, or something that may look better than what you think, you got to find a way.
Whether your parents are helping you or your friends are helping you, right now you just need to find a way to get it done. For me there are some times in Boise that I can’t even get to a field, I have to go find some sort of park that has a pole that I can kick at, some days I don’t even have uprights.
When it comes to weights, if you don’t have weights, use bands, if you don’t have bands, lift your animal, if you don’t have an animal, lift your garage a different way, something, something to get better, something to continually work at your craft. Something that will overall take your mind off of this as well and bring a motivation that you will continue to have to be the best person and best athlete you can be.”
Talk about where you are at in your career right now
“Right now, it’s kind of like everybody else, we are trying to figure it out. Still chasing the dream, obviously with the XFL announcing they are coming back, hopefully that can be a fallback for me.
Right now, I'm in California right now to train, working with a former NFL Kicker who was in the league for what seemed like forever, John Carney, and we are going out there and just working and trying to be the best kicker I can be and put the best version of myself out on the field.
I’m looking for some sort of NFL team to give me a shot and if that doesn’t work we are going to go full blast with the XFL, right now we are just searching for a spot.
We have good film, I have good film with the XFL, I had a good experience and hopefully it continues on to the next level. With this Covid thing it is bringing another obstacle or a loop to it, but we’re fighting and we’re finding a way.”
How much do people undervalue special teams
“Oh, a ton, not just the specialist position with kickers, punters and snappers, but special teams in general. I think most people think that punt team, kickoff, kickoff return, punt return, field goal, field goal block, they think that’s kind of like a play player’s take off. They don’t know the numbers from it, with punt and punt return alone, there’s numbers with the field position battle. With kickoff, same thing with field position battle, whether you want to put a ball in a specific location or touchback to the twenty-five, or you’re looking at someone on their kickoff return team who is one of their starting receivers, you want to put a bigger hit on him to kind of get him rattled a little bit.
If you look at field goals, three points add up and they add up fast. Obviously, two field goals alone measure out to a touchdown, and a missed PAT away from being a regular touchdown, and three field goals away from a two possession game, that you didn’t know was going to happen because they scored a touchdown but you have three field goals scored.
All those things matter especially when you have a kicker who can hit from longer distances because sometimes when coaches get inside certain ranges, for most kickers you can get to about the fifty-five I would say with most and feel comfortable with them putting a ball in play for sure.
Coaches play call different, people don’t think they play call different because why would they settle for three? It’s not about that, you’re trying to score every single possession, no matter what the possession is and it’s one of those things that is overlooked by the untrained eye you can say...”
Who were some of the kickers you looked up to growing up?
“Yeah, I mean John Carney was always one, he was in the league forever and he just kind of seemed like your prototype automatic guy. Obviously, you look at Vinatieri and at that time he just got done kicking the game winner for the Patriots over the Rams and at that time he was on a tear. I looked at that and I loved that and at that time my favorite team was the Pittsburgh Steelers and at the time they had Jeff Reed, who was pretty automatic as well.
Jay Feely was another guy as well, what I liked about Jay Feely, it always seemed like he was hurt, but he just kept playing and it was always something I remembered. For some reason the announcers always wanted to say that first, ‘Oh, he’s got this injury, this injury and this injury, but here he is,’ and those were some of the guys I looked up to and guys I try to replicate swings after.’
What advice do you have for kickers?
“One, you have to swing your swing and what I mean by that is, you have to figure out what your style is, because no two swings are going to be the same, just like how no two things in life are going to be the same. You can take a different style and you can look at a different style and base your swing off of that, but it’s not going to look the same, it’s going to look how your body and self wants it to look.
From there you got to work at it, you got to do dry swings, you have to plan out different things, you have to record yourself and look at your different recordings and you have to take off with it. Kind of like I said earlier you need to find a way! Find a way to keep working even if you don’t have uprights, you have to find a way. The hard thing there is to find balls, if you can get your hands on two that’s good enough and you have to find your way from there...”
What made you pick Boise State coming out of JUCO?
“Out of High School I had probably twenty walk-on offers, to a bunch of different schools. It was frustrating because I had three or four guys around me that were going to USC, Nebraska, UCLA, Washington, Utah and there was always coaches there, even for my senior year I came out and I was the California special teams MVP that year. I didn’t have one scholarship offer and no coaches was coming close to me.
From there I actually accepted a walk-on offer to the University of Nevada-Reno. I was basically signing on to get a scholarship my second semester and I got there in June, was there all of June and July, the beginning of August they had a problem with too many people in the school than they thought. They raised a couple academics to get in, different scores they require and I didn’t meet them. So, they sent me home from Nevada where I was supposed to go for school, so I went to a Junior College.
From there I could have just said I’m good, I got sent home, but I loved it too much and I went to Junior College and I came out of the gates real hot and everything went real well that whole season. About game five, game six, I was talking to Boise State and I had just hit a game winner in overtime, that’s when Chris Petersen called and said, ‘Hey, we’re going to give you a scholarship,’ and that was like a weight lifted off of my shoulders after that happened.
From there he called that there was going to be a bunch of schools to offer me. Everybody says after your first that’s when so many more come, he did it on like a Friday and come Monday, there was like ten, fifteen schools at my JUCO school, looking to offer me. I wasn’t about it because some of them had to look at a paper to say my name and I was like, ‘I’m good I've been talking to Boise State this whole time, I love everything about them, love Coach Petersen, love everything about the school.
I had schools in like the ACC, Big-12 and I think that’s one thing I’m glad I did. Just because they were bigger and they had bigger names, I went to the school that better fit me and better fit where I could play. Even though I sat out my first two years at Boise State and I knew that my Junior and Senior year I'd be able to play and I wasn’t certain with that for the other schools that gave me scholarship offers.
That’s definitely something I'd try and tell kids now, don’t choose the big-name school where you can get lost in the system, go to the school where you can be you, somewhere where your family is going to enjoy and even where you can spend your life after, but you can have the best experience you can have because some things may not work out, some things may work out, but at the end of the day you need to enjoy your life, enjoy your quality of living and your experience.”
What was it like being on the Lou Groza watchlist in 2016 and being a semifinalist the year before?
“It was awesome, I thought for sure I was going to be a finalist. There might have been politics that played a part in that, but that’s stuff I couldn’t control. It’s an honor but at the end of the day it’s another thing your name is added to and you get exposure for. That comes with working hard, because when you work hard, good things happen. When you put your head down, when you do the right things and do things correctly, good things happen to you and that’s what ended up happening.
I just put my head down and I was working, our coaches had enough belief in me and we had a very young offense that year and it seemed like every time we got to the twenty, we just stalled or went backwards. We still scored a bunch, we just kept stalling in the red zone, they had enough belief in me to let me do me.
I ended up going 25/30 that year, led the country in field goals that year, I think I was one or two in points that year, or top five, and records were broken and all that. Going into next my senior year, being on the watchlist is always something, it’s a feel-good thing, it’s just a watchlist, but to be recognized like that is something.
My senior year I think we were number three in scoring that year, our offense grew up a little bit, my field goals got cut into like a third, at the end of the day it wasn’t about me, if we kept winning, who cares?..”
How important is a snapper and holder when kicking a field goal?
“It’s everything, the snap sets the tone, high, low, middle, it always sets the tone for what’s coming, that’s what starts up your offensive lineman. The snap always sets the tone and the thing is if nobody notices the long snapper, then he is doing his job well, if you say something about the long snapper he probably isn’t doing his job or he’s firing it back so fast you’re saying, ‘holy cow I can’t even see that ball.’ If you don’t notice the long snapper and he’s basically invisible, he’s doing his job and he’s doing it well.
Which leads to the hold, aside from the snap, people need to understand that the ball needs to be hand to hand in under a second. Most of the time .5 or .6 and it needs to be laces out or laces in the general area, people need to know that that is not up to the holder, the long snapper needs to do his job well enough to figure out the rotations, how many rotations there are and how many times to get it laces out to the holder.
From there the holder needs to take it and put it down as fast as possible, every once in a while, you are going to need to adjust the lace, but he is going to need to figure out what kind of tilt the kicker likes, what the scenario is, is there wind in the face, wind in the back, does the kicker like a different hold at this time, he needs to get his hands and extremities out of the way and ultimately needs to do it how the kicker likes it and from there that’s how the kicker does his job. There’s ten guys who need to do their job before one lone kicker does his job...”
I have heard Pat McAfee say that kicking is a different game than Football, do you agree?
“100% that’s something you will hear from a lot of specialists, that you have to play a game within a game, it’s like golf you have to play a game within a game, every time I go out there, kind of the last thing I think of is what’s happening on the field, what’s happening on the scoreboard.
Just kind of what’s going on I need to play the game of, where I’m aiming the football, how is the wind going to play in effect, what are the different conditions that are going on and I need to hit my target to put points on the board. When you start thinking of all the outliers, then that is where you start screwing up.”
What is it like mentally to miss a kick? How mentally strong do you need to be?
“I mean it’s a miss, once you do it, you kind of look back at how it happened, between that you got to look at the snap hold before kickoff at about 1.3, if you get it at 1.25 you got to go back and look at what you did wrong in those 1.25 seconds. Ninety-five to ninety-eight percent of teams don’t have a kicking coach and you need to quickly learn what you did wrong and you need to be mentally strong enough, mentally stable enough, to look at it, learn from your mistake and learn to move on and move on fast.
You can learn from your past, but look to the future right away. That’s definitely something that I learned earlier and I’ve been pretty good with. When something bad happens, I learn from it fast, I learn my wrongs from it, kind of what my body movements were like, what I did like, what I didn’t like and I move forward.”
What is it like kicking for the Mass Pirates and being in Massachusetts?
“I honestly liked Worcester, I had a quick correcting. When I first got there I said, ‘Wow Worchester is pretty cool,’ I did that at one of the local hospitals while I was giving blood, this woman who had to have been like eighty, she literally looked at me and was like, ‘If you want to live hear, you got to know how to say it right. But don’t say it like you’re from Boston say it like you’re from Worcester.’ And I was like, ‘Okay how do people from Boston say it?’ And she said, ‘Woo-stah’ and then I was like, ‘Okay, but you just took out like four or five of the letters, what do you mean?’ then she said, ‘That’s not up to me, that’s how you say it!’ and I was like, ‘okay my bad.’ I’m sorry eighty-year-old grandma who’s going to take me to school right now.
From there I honestly loved it, people are very blunt, which I like, everybody is pretty outgoing, you see people who just talk and want to talk. The lingo is definitely different, super different lingo and different scenes, different dressing, and just how people go about their daily life.
A lot more partying, than in California, that’s for sure. It just seemed like there was just different stuff everywhere, different people everywhere, I couldn’t have had a better experience while I was there.
I have family that live like an hour and a half away and they would come to the games. Afterwards I would just go to their house and even on off days I would just go there and hang out with them. But I loved it, everything about Massachusetts especially.”
I was doing some research on you and I found an article that ties your XFL debut to Chad Johnson, can you explain that please?
“HAHA, ok so when the XFL was going through training camp, I had been in the player pool the whole time and didn’t end up getting drafted. Towards the end of training camp when they were in Houston, Chad Johnson was like, alright I’m going out for kicker, I want to revive my career as a kicker. The XFL doing well with their publicity they said they would make a try out around him. That’s what they did, they made a specialist tryout around him.
I want to say three teams including DC, brought some kickers, so there was me and two other kickers and Chad Johnson. We get there the second to last day of camp and we are about to go out there and kick in the morning and we get there and me and the other two kickers are looking at each other like, alright where is the man at?
We asked the director of player personnel of the whole league, ‘Hey where’s Ochocinco at?’ and he said, ‘Oh he’s not coming because we told him it couldn’t be like a whole publicity stunt type thing.’ They couldn’t have Barstool Sports or cameras or anything. We are going to make a real workout out of it and he ended up just not showing.
Actually, the night before there was a major UFC fight, I want to say it was Connor McGregor the night before, but he walked out with him and he was there at the fight. I kind of thought about it and was like there is no way he is going to be at the tryout tomorrow, there’s just no way. But yeah they made the workouts around Chad Johnson and that’s kind of how I got my chance.”
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