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Wyoming Cowboys' kicker is hoping for a big year

Cowboys kicker John Hoyland kicks a football in the empty Wyoming Cowboys football stadium.
Bob Beck
Wyoming Public Media

Wyoming Cowboys kicker John Hoyland had an odd season last year. After being named a freshman All-American and 2nd Team All-Conference Performer in 2020, Hoyland's 2021 season was average. He made ten out of just 14 field goal attempts, a low number for most teams. But heading into his third season, the Broomfield, Colorado native is looking for a big year.

Head Coach Craig Bohl calls him a cool customer. In 2020, Hoyland was a non-scholarship player who had to take over kicking duties at the last second after an injury to the former starter.

"His first game was against Nevada. And he ended up going out there in overtime, and he kicked one kick, I think was good, but they had called a timeout. And he was, I think, singing a rap song or something and hit the next one," said Bohl. "He owns his work, he works hard at it. That's a real good weapon for us."

Hoyland came into field goal kicking late in life after being a soccer player. He said the key to successfully making kicks is being confident.

"I've done the whole step back and just seeing the ball being kicked off the ground many times before, and definitely just getting comfortable with the guys around me."

Unlike some of us when we miss our spot on the golf course, Hoyland said you have to remain composed.

"I'm a lot more angry on the golf course than I am on the field. You just gotta take it one kick at a time. And you know, if you miss one, you just got to focus on the next kick, because that can make or break us," said Hoyland.

He doesn't miss many though. He's only missed five field goals in his career and he's never missed an extra point. Hoyland showed that same consistency during kicking drills prior to a Cowboys practice earlier this month. Under the watchful eye of head Coach Craig Bohl they practice the snap…hold and kick…over and over. Later in the day, he faced defenders as they tried to block his kicks. Bohl said he times everything to see how long the snap, the hold and the kick takes. If it's too slow, it risks getting blocked.

"The other things that you're trying to do is allow them an opportunity in a closed set setting to really focus on the fundamental things, and then we videotape everything. And then trying to create a memory set up to where when they run out in the game, they're not going through that checklist," said Bohl.

Practice is strange for kickers. They don't participate in scrimmages or contact drills like the rest of the team. They get work sporadically and have a lot of free time.

"There's only so much kicking you can do so we kind of just hang out sometimes, hold your drill work sometimes, we'll just stay busy. And that's a good part of being a kicker. And so you've got to find ways to stay busy," said Hoyland.

And he needs to stay ready because field goals and extra points are often the difference in a game. That kind of pressure isn't for everyone, but Hoyland loves it.

"Oh, it's always been fun. I've always enjoyed kicking and yeah, definitely, one of my favorite things ever is just seeing the ball go through the uprights because that means I've done my job and everyone's happy at that point," he said.

But if you miss, they're mad.

Bob Beck retired from Wyoming Public Media after serving as News Director of Wyoming Public Radio for 34 years. During his time as News Director WPR has won over 100 national, regional and state news awards.
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