Friday December 28, 2012 | By:Michael J. Petro | Sports
Nick Borgese prepares to kick a field goal this season for Rutgers. (Photo courtesy of Rutgers Athletics)
Nick Borgese wasn’t even traveling with the University of Rutgers football team to start the season. But a lot has changed since then.
When the Scarlet Knights take the field for the Russell Athletic Bowl on Friday, Dec. 28 in Orlando, Fla. in a game to be televised on ESPN2, the Hamburg native, who started the season as the team’s third-string punter, will be front and center as its starting place kicker.
Borgese, a red-shirt freshman, stepped into the starting role seven games ago after starter Kyle Federico went down for the season due to a hip injury. Borgese wasn’t even second in line to take over the duties. The week in practice prior to Rutgers’ next game, against Syracuse, Borgese was given the opportunity to win the starting job and he took full advantage of the open competition by impressing his special teams coach with his consistency.
Before he knew it, Borgese was a starter trotting out there to kick field goals and extra points. That first game week was a whirlwind.
“Things flipped completely and did a 180 degree turn for me,” said Borgese, a 2011 St. Francis High School graduate. “The week it happened I was also really busy academically. I couldn’t wait for that week to end. I’m just happy I made the most of the opportunity and still am.”
Even with all of the stress of the week and being thrust into the lineup, Borgese wasn’t nervous when he lined up for his first kick and even as the snap was not handled cleanly by the holder.
“I wasn’t nervous at all and when the holder fumbled the snap a bit, it made me just react and not think too much about the kick,” Borgese said. “In hind-site, I think it helped.”
He’s shown the nerve and type of mentality a kicker needs to succeed at this level. Borgese has gone on to make 4 of 5 field goals and 16 of 17 extra points. His long is 42 yards.
“It’s still just a game, whether there’s 50,000 people watching you kick or a million people, it shouldn’t matter,” said the former All-Catholic kicker and punter. “If you’re worried about how many people are watching, how far the field goal is or what’s the score, you’re not going to be successful. I take each kick in the moment.”
He’s also been able to be a part of one of Rutgers’ most successful football seasons as the program won a Big East title for the first time, finishing in a three-way first-place tie. The Scarlet Knights, who finished 9-3 and 5-2 in the Big East, will make their eighth bowl appearance.
“It’s a big game because it’s a bowl game so the build-up is awesome,” Borgese said. “It’s in Orlando and on national TV and we normally don’t get to play there, so it is special. It’s a real good experience.”
What’s also help make his experience has been the way he’s been encouraged by his teammates and coaches. He remembers after he had a kick blocked in Cincinnati his teammates came up to him and told him not to worry about it and that he’ll get the next one.
“The team has been great with the process as I’ve been learning the ropes and the coaches have given me helpful pointers,” Borgese said. “The positive reinforcement from the team has really helped me feel confident.”
Speaking of positivity, Rutgers’ head coach Kyle Flood told the New Jersey Press Media during the season that, “I have tremendous confidence in Nick. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to since we put him in....Whatever the situation is in the game we’ll have confidence that he can go out there and execute for us.”
Borgese has truly come quite a way in a short period of time.