Rebels kicker Bryson Rose says success on the golf course has led to his success on the football field. Now the former walk-on is just four field goals away from SEC history.
Though field position has limited his chances this season, Rose has made 15 consecutive field goal attempts, two shy of second place, three away from tying record-holder Fuad Reveiz, who hit 18 straight for Tennessee in 1984.
Florida kicker Bobby Raymond made 17 in a row in the same season. He's second on the SEC's consecutive field goals made list.
"Bryson has been consistent and has done an excellent job for us," Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said. "When we cross the 35 we feel like we've got three points in the bag."
Even with that confidence Rose - who is from Raleigh, N.C., the same hometown as another famous Rebels walk-on, All-American guard Everett Lindsay - has managed just five field goal attempts this season.
He's connected each time, hitting from 20, 29, 24, 43 and 39 yards. What's looked different for Rose this season is leg strength, which was evident on last week's 39-yarder at Auburn and the career-best 43-yarder the week before against Arkansas.
"Last year I felt like I was skipping the ball, and this year I feel like I'm getting my foot on the ball a lot more, and I'm hitting the ball better than I was last year. I feel a whole lot more confident, and I feel a lot better about everything than I did last year," Rose said.
After hitting 16 of 18 attempts last year, Nutt made a conditional promise to put Rose on scholarship.
"He told me to keep working hard. Then when I came back, he told me he'd put me on at the beginning of the season, in the summer," Rose recalled. "He said I earned it."
The record suggests just that. Rose hasn't missed a field goal since going wide on a 31-yard attempt against Fresno State in September of 2010.
Just like golf
He equates much of his success to his golf game. Rose played the sport in high school and continues to shoot in the 70s routinely.
"I relate the golf swing to kicking," he said. "As far as getting ready for a shot in golf, it's the same thing as kicking a field goal, you have to get your mind right and get ready for it."
Rose also relates his success to Gary Zauner, a kicking consultant near Scottsdale, Ariz. Zauner has worked with kickers for 36 years, 13 of those as special teams coordinator for NFL clubs Minnesota, Baltimore and Arizona. He's coached collegiately as well.
"I worked with coach Zauner over the break. He's taught me a lot," Rose said.
Ole Miss special teams coordinator James Shibest welcomes the outside instruction.
"I think having your own tutor is critical. When I'm recruiting I try to find players who've got guys who are training them. It helps me, because I can go back to those guys too, and they can tell me the things they've had trouble with," he said.
Shibest says Rose's consistency has also developed because of his discipline in a practice setting that requires kickers to often work on their own.
There's a lot of team work as well, and Shibest tries to create the atmosphere of a pressure kick as much as he can.
"We try to put them in the situations where they're running on the field for the game-winner," he said. "On Thursdays, me and him have a little deal going. He's got to go 4-for-4 with the game on the line."
Success on Saturdays also requires not over-working the leg during the week, Shibest said. He's also eager to see Rose line up for the 50-yard plus kick on a game day.
"I think that opportunity's going to come too, and I'm waiting for the big one when he gets the opportunity to have the game-winner. I think he'll be ready to excel at that too. That's when you're really tested as a kicker, when the game's really on the line."