When he first arrived at LSU last fall, place-kicker Colby Delahoussaye said coach Les Miles had a hard time wrapping his Midwestern dialect around his Cajun name.
“I would hear ‘Del-ah-who-sa-aye,’” Delahoussaye said. “But we got it worked out.”
For better or worse, everyone will know Delahoussaye’s name this season.
From Colt David to Josh Jasper to Drew Alleman, going back to LSU’s last BCS national championship season in 2007, the Tigers have been able to depend upon a string of high-quality place-kickers to launch one ball after another through the uprights.
David was an All-Southeastern Conference pick in 2007 and 2008. Jasper became LSU’s first All-American kicker in 2010. And Alleman was a two-time second-team All-SEC selection in 2011 and 2012.
It is into this daunting legacy that Delahoussaye now dips his toe.
An untested redshirt freshman from New Iberia, Delahoussaye beat out junior James Hairston and fellow redshirt freshman Trent Domingue for the starting job during LSU’s preseason camp.
“It’s an honor to be named with those names,” said Delahoussaye, a New Iberia High graduate. “To even be put in the same group with Colt and Josh and Drew is a huge honor. I wouldn’t say it’s pressure. Talking to those guys, they would say, don’t have pressure; just go out there and do what you do.
“Initially I felt excited and blessed, but just being named the starter doesn’t mean much. If I don’t perform on the field, I’m back to step one.”
No one spends more time looking over his shoulder on the football field than a kicker.
They live the ultimate “what have you done for me lately?” existence, a particularly nomadic one in the NFL. Delahoussaye’s favorite kicker, David Akers, was kicking for the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl in New Orleans in February and now is getting in his kicks with the Detroit Lions.
Whenever he steps onto the field in AT&T (formerly Cowboys) Stadium on Saturday night for his first field goal or extra-point try against TCU, Delahoussaye admits his nervous system will let him know it’s along for the ride.
“There will be butterflies,” he said, “but I’ve worked really hard with a sports psychologist in being able to bottle up those feelings and use them in a positive way.”
Helping steady Delahoussaye’s nerves will be sophomore deep snapper Reid Ferguson and holder Seth Fruge, a senior linebacker.
“Reid is a machine, and Seth doesn’t miss a hold,” Delahoussaye said. “They make my job easy.”
Hairston, as he did last year with Alleman kicking, will handle kickoffs and could be called on to try the occasional long field goal.
Like Delahoussaye, Hairston has yet to put his foot to a field goal or PAT attempt, but is eager for the opportunity.
“You can only control what you can control,” said Hairston, who boomed 27 of his 79 kickoffs last season for touchbacks. “At the end of the day, if coach gives me the call and I have to go execute for the team, so be it. You compete with yourself so you can give your best to your teammates.”
A native of Dallas, Hairston said he’ll have about 50 family and friends at Saturday’s game, but knows there will be little time for socializing except perhaps in the long hours at the team hotel before the 8 p.m. kickoff.
“It’s a business trip,” Hairston said.
Domingue, who prepped at St. Paul’s, is in a prime backup role at both place-kicker and punter behind sophomore Jamie Keehn.
“I’m going to try to contribute as much as I can during practice and games to always be ready, said Domingue, who is also a walk-on.
Despite the compeititon, all three kickers say they’re a close-knit group.
“We spend every second of practice together,” Domingue said.
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