There were many smiles, hugs and tears as the Nittany Lions jumped and ran off the Beaver Stadium natural grass following last year's thrilling overtime win over Wisconsin, but no one was grinning more broadly than Sam Ficken. In his first season as the Nittany Lions' placekicker, Ficken ended the year with his first collegiate game-winning kick, a 37-yard field goal for a thrilling 24-21 Senior Day victory. He finished the season by connecting on his last 10 field goal attempts, including a 3-of-3 effort against the Badgers to earn Big Ten Special Teams Player-of-the-Week accolades for the first time in his career. Sam Ficken enters his junior campaign full of confidence and will handle whatever challenges arise in stride. Ficken has a strong and accurate leg and he made adjustments early in the 2012 season that helped him improve as the year transpired. The former Valparaiso High School all-state honoree continued his progress during spring practice and is a potential All-Big Ten candidate this season. Ficken led the Nittany Lions in scoring last year with 81 points, hitting 14-of-21 field goals, while handling all kickoff duties. He was ranked No. 2 in the Big Ten in kick scoring (8.1 ppg) and No. 3 in field goals (1.50 avg.) in conference games. Ficken is a regular at the Nittany Lions' community service events and was named to the 2012 Academic All-Big Ten team. He gained Dean's List honors with a 3.69 grade-point average during the 2013 spring semester. Ficken owned a 3.61 cumulative GPA in finance entering the summer and is a potential Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-America® candidate.
2012 (Sophomore Season)
In his first full season as the Nittany Lions' placekicker, Ficken ended the year with his first collegiate game-winning kick, a 37-yard field goal for a thrilling 24-21 Senior Day overtime win over Wisconsin. He finished the season by connecting on his last 10 field goal attempts, including a 3-of-3 effort against the Badgers to earn Big Ten Special Teams Player-of-the-Week accolades for the first time in his career. Ficken led the Nittany Lions in scoring with 81 points, hitting 14-of-21 field goals and going 39-of-41 on PAT attempts. He was ranked No. 2 in the Big Ten in kick scoring (8.1 ppg) and No. 3 in field goals (1.50 avg.) in conference games. He made his final 31 PAT attempts. He handled all of the kickoff duties, with 68 kickoffs for a 61.9-yard average and 27 touchbacks. Ficken connected on a 21-yard field goal and was 4-of-4 on PAT attempts in the 39-28 comeback win over No. 24 Northwestern and made a 34-yard field goal and was 5-of-5 on PAT attempts in the 38-14 win at Iowa. He made his only field goal attempt, 27 yards, and was 2-of-2 on PAT attempts against Ohio State and made 27 and 24-yard field goals and was 4-of-4 on PAT attempts in the 34-9 victory at Purdue. Ficken delivered a strong game at No. 18 Nebraska, going 3-of-3 on field goal attempts (27, 38, 35 yards) in windy conditions, which included getting debris blown in his eye during pre-game warm-ups. Ficken hit three field goals in a game for the first time in his career against the Huskers, his 38-yarder was a season-long and five of his six kickoffs were touchbacks. Ficken attained Dean's List recognition and was an Academic All-Big Ten selection.
2011 (Freshman Season)
Ficken made his Nittany Lion debut in the season-opener with Indiana State, connecting on his one PAT attempt and kicking off once. He missed his first career field goal attempt, from 49 yards, at Temple. Ficken made his first career field goal, from 43 yards, on his second career attempt and kicked off twice in the win over Eastern Michigan. He did not see any action in Big Ten play. Ficken was among four true freshmen who saw action in 2011.
Ficken was named first-team Associated Press Class 5A all-state for Coach Mark Hoffman at Valparaiso High School. He also was a member of the all-area team. A former soccer player, he made 13 field goals as a senior, including a school-record 52-yard kick. He also recorded 45 touchbacks on kickoffs during his senior season.
Full name is Samuel James Ficken. He is the son of Jim and Nancy Ficken and has a brother, Drew. A cousin, Robbie Hummel, recently completed a stellar career with the Purdue basketball team. Ficken enjoys water skiing, wake boarding, tubing and skiing. He is a finance major in the Smeal College of Business. Born December 14, 1992 in Valparaiso, Ind.