College football: Jastram making most of opportunity
It was a common belief before the football season began that freshman Adam Keller was going to be the North Dakota State starting kicker. He had yet to set foot on campus, but it was clear why the Bison recruited him out from the state of Pennsyl...
It was a common belief before the football season began that freshman Adam Keller was going to be the North Dakota State starting kicker. He had yet to set foot on campus, but it was clear why the Bison recruited him out from the state of Pennsylvania.
Sign on the dotted line here, and the job is yours for four years.
But Keller injured his leg at the beginning of fall camp and it turns out the Bison ace kicker had been here all along. Junior Ryan Jastram is 7 of 9 in field goals including some long-range shots heading into Saturday's game at Youngstown State.
Jastram was the third string kicker for most of the season last year behind seniors Shawn Bibeau and John Obarski. But Bibeau pulled a groin before the seventh game of the season and Obarski did virtually the same thing before the eighth game.
That left Jastram and he got off to a nice start with a 35-yard field goal and hitting both of his extra points against Missouri State. Then came three misses on a wet field on a sloppy day at Western Illinois, a game in which the Bison still won 14-7.
"That was tough," Jastram said. "You have to put that behind you and go on to the next play. The conditions were bad but a Division I kicker is expected to be successful in those conditions."
That 0-for-3 day carried into the off season. He saw headlines in the local newspaper that read "Search is on for a new kicker," which described the NDSU coaching staff looking hard to recruit a kicker.
He went about his business kicking footballs into a net at the Bison Sports Arena.
And look at him now.
He's tied for 17th in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision field goals per game at 1.40. NDSU's failure to score a touchdown inside the 20 last week against Western Illinois was Jastram's gain in three pointers - he made all three of his field goal attempts including a career-long 47-yarder.
It topped his previous best of 44 yards set at Kansas, a game in which his two field goals were the difference in a 6-3 Bison upset. In all, he is 3 of 4 from beyond 40 yards.
"I've always had kind of a stronger leg," he said, "but I think I've just been able to improve my accuracy from farther away."
He spent two years at New Mexico State as a walkon, becoming the kickoff specialist his true freshman year in 2007. He had 59 kickoffs and also appeared in the opening game as the placekicker.
But the Aggies had two scholarship kickers the following year, Jastram said, and that left him third on the depth chart. So the graduate of Sioux Falls Roosevelt High School transferred back closer to home.
Where he was third on the depth chart.
Until this year.
"I'm enjoying it," he said. "We're 3-2, but it's been fun."
Inforum searchword: Bison footballl
Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the Saturday Morning Sports Show, 9-11 a.m. on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5546.
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