NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Kickers tend to shy away from the spotlight but for Jamin Godfrey he can’t shy away much longer. The Tennessee State kicker needs just 47 points to break one of Big Blue’s most prestigious records - the career scoring mark.
For Godfrey, sports came naturally playing soccer and baseball in high school before picking up football his junior year.
“I started out as a wide receiver and one day I was just messing around with the kicker and I just out kicked him; and then the coaches asked me if I wanted to kick, I said ‘sure why not,’” Godfrey said on his start in kicking. “After that I didn’t play any other position because the other kicker quit.”
For the Englewood, Tenn. native, that day at McMinn High School football practice worked and the kicking job stuck.
After the 2009 season in which Tennessee State struggled in the kicking game (2-of-6 in FGs and 15-of-22 in extra points),newly named head coach Rod Reed went looking for a kicker that would elevate the Tigers. Reed found a 6-1 left-footed kicker built like a wide receiver in Jamin Godfrey, but like most positions putting a freshman in the starting lineup is always a worry for coaches.
The first-year coach made the decision to put the freshman in the role from the start and never looked back. After an up-and-down first year in which Godfrey went 9- of-18 in field goals, the kicker looked for ways to improve his game. That summer Godfrey worked former Eastern Kentucky kicker Joe Davis and current assistant coach at nearby Montgomery Bell Academy. During Davis’ career at EKU, he was a part of the four time OVC champions and 1982 1-AA National Championship team.
“He has built me into the kicker I am today,” Godfrey said of his mentor. “I’m still working to improve because I’m not perfect and I’ll never be perfect, but he has helped me to be where I am today.”
Where Godfrey is today is within striking distance of the career scoring record at Tennessee State. The kicker’s nine extra points in TSU’s win over Central State last Saturday, allowed the kicker to pass former Big Blue wide receiver and current offensive coordinator Mike Jones for third overall in the career scoring list with 260 points. Now, Godfrey sits just 46 points away from running back Alfred Reese’s record of 306 career points.
“I heard a long time ago records are meant to be broken,” said Jones. “So when I was a young lad here I wasn’t thinking about breaking records I was just thinking about catching and running with the football.”
Jones also focused on another aspect of the game, winning. During his playing career TSU posted a 35-6-1 record winning two Black College Football Championships in 1979 and 1982.
A level of success Godrey hopes to see Tennessee State return to in the coming years.
“The records nice but knowing you helped rebuild a football program is awesome,” Godfrey said of his record setting career.
He has also has the trust of his head coach Rod Reed when there’s a chance for Big Blue to tack on points.
“Having a solid kicker is just like having a good quarterback, you know you can count on them and you know they can be consistent and make good decisions and Jamin’s done that for us,” said Reed. “He’s still a kicker and as weird as ever but he’s done a great job for us.”
During his record breaking career Godfrey has gone 50- of-75 in field goal attempts racking up 260 points for the Tigers. Coming into the 2013 the kicker held the record for most field goals made in a career, field goals most single season, and most field goals in a game. Godfrey has added the career scoring record for a placekicker this season.
A year ago Big Blue’s kicker was named second team All-OVC for his performance from the field. For Godfrey, if his strong start and his previous history is of any indication, the kicker has a chance to be the first TSU special teams player to be named to an All-OVC first team since return specialist Avion Black in 1999, and the first Tiger kicker ever to be named first team All-OVC.
“[Godfrey’s success] is a tribute to the coaching staff and the recruiting we’ve done going out and putting an emphasis on the kicking game,” Reed said.
As for the record it’s something Godfrey keeps in the back of his head on game days, but for now it’s all about winning games.
“It’s definitely motivation because who doesn’t want to see their name on top of that list?” said Godfrey. “It means a lot to have a shot at the scoring record, but I still have the rest of the season left so I want to finish out this season strong. Then after that I can look at the record books to see what everything adds up to.”
And the legendary Mike Jones getting beat out by a kicker?
“I didn’t realize it until after the game when coach [Justin] Roberts texted me and said, ‘you let a kicker beat you?’ and I didn’t even know he was that close,” Jones said. ” He’s got me by two so I told him to go ahead and break the record.”