The Nittany Lions opened the home portion of their 2014 schedule against the Akron Zips at Beaver Stadium Sept. 6, 2014.
Sam Ficken led the Nittany Lions in scoring for the second-straight season and wrote his name into the record books during the 2013 season, but the senior enters his final campaign stronger and more confident than ever. The dedicated and determined Ficken has a strong and accurate leg and should be an All-Big Ten candidate this fall. One of the squad's leaders on and off the field, he earned honorable-mention All-Big Ten recognition in 2013. After connecting on his final 10 field goal attempts of the 2012 season, Ficken was true on his first five attempts last year to boost his consecutive made streak to 15, breaking Craig Fayak's school record of 13 straight field goals in 1992. The streak ended when he just missed a 57-yarder against UCF at the end of the first half. The former Valparaiso High School all-state player delivered the longest field goal by a Penn State player in home game history when he knocked in a 54-yard attempt in the rain against Kent State. That impressive field goal was tied for the fourth-longest in Penn State history and was the team's longest trey since 1979 when Herb Menhardt hit a game-winning 54-yarder at North Carolina State. Ficken's 54-yard effort trails only a trio of 55-yard field goals by All-American Chris Bahr in 1975. His 54-yard effort was the longest in the Big Ten and ranked tied for eighth nationally last season. Ficken led the team with 86 points last year, connecting on 15-of-23 field goals and 41-of-42 extra points. He also handled the kickoff duties, with 18 touchbacks among his 67 kicks and a 60.9 average. Entering the 2014 campaign, Ficken is 11th in school career field goals made (30) and just 20 points shy of writing his name among the top 15 scorers in school history. He has ranked among the top scorers in the Big Ten in each of the last two seasons and he continues to refine his craft, including video work with former Nittany Lion and current Chicago Bears All-Pro kicker Robby Gould. Ficken is a regular at the Nittany Lions' community service events and is a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree. The Dean's List student owned a 3.59 cumulative grade-point average in finance entering the summer and is a potential Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-America® candidate. He is on schedule to graduate in December.
2013 - Junior Season
A strong junior campaign that included a 54-yard field goal and a school record for consecutive field goal attempts made boosted Ficken to honorable-mention All-Big Ten recognition. He broke the Penn State record for consecutive field goals made, with 15 straight converted attempts, a streak that started on Oct. 27, 2012 against Ohio State and ended on Sept. 14, 2013 against UCF, when his 57-yard attempt was just short. Ficken's 54-yard conversion in the rain in the Kent State game marked the longest field goal by a Penn State player in home game history. It was the longest Penn State field goal in 34 years and tied for fourth-longest in school history. Ficken led the team in scoring for the second consecutive year, with 86 points, connecting on 15-of-23 field goals and 41-of-42 extra points. He also handled the kickoff duties, with 18 touchbacks among his 67 kicks and a 60.9 average. Ficken ranked fourth in the Big Ten in field goals made per game (1.25) and was tied for third in the conference with 15 successful field goals. His 54-yarder against Kent State was the longest field goal in the Big Ten and tied for eighth in the NCAA during the season. For the second straight year he ranked among the conference scoring leaders, finishing eighth in scoring (7.2 ppg) -- a mark that was fifth among Big Ten kickers. After a three-field goal effort in the season-opening win over Syracuse at MetLife Stadium, Ficken earned Big Ten Special Teams Player-of-the-Week for the second time in his career. He connected on all three field goal attempts and both extra points in the win over the Orange, including a then-career-long field goal of 46 yards in the fourth quarter. He converted his 14th consecutive field goal (39 yards) late in the second quarter against Eastern Michigan, breaking the Penn State record he previously shared with Craig Fayak from the 1992 season. Ficken extended his school record to 15 straight by booting a then-career-long 47-yard field goal in the second quarter against UCF, before the streak ended when a 57-yard attempt was just short near the end of the first half. The next week against Kent State, he booted a career-long 54-yard field goal in the fourth quarter in the rain during the shutout win. The 54-yarder was Penn State's longest since 1979, when Herb Menhardt's 54-yarder at North Carolina State gave the Lions a 9-7 win, and tied for the fourth-longest in program history. Ficken's 54-yard effort trailed only a trio of 55-yard field goals by All-American Chris Bahr in 1975. He made a 30-yard field goal and three extra points at Indiana, an effort that included four touchbacks on five kickoff attempts. In the back and forth four-overtime contest against No. 18 Michigan, Ficken connected on field goals of 45, 43 and 36 yards, going 3-for-5 overall, and made all four extra point attempts. His first two field goals came in regulation, with the 43-yard effort drawing Penn State within 34-27 with 6:35 left in the fourth period. He converted both extra point attempts at No. 4 Ohio State, but did not have any field goal attempts, which snapped a 13-game streak with at least one made field goal. In the win over Illinois, Ficken kicked the game-tying field goal from 35 yards out with 41 seconds left, while also converting all three of his extra point opportunities. He was successful on a 27-yard field goal and converted his lone extra point opportunity at Minnesota and a 29-yard field goal and six converted extra points highlighted the win over Purdue. Ficken connected on two extra points in the home-finale with Nebraska. In a second consecutive classic season-ending victory, Ficken converted a 28-yard field goal and all four extra points to help the Lions to a huge 31-24 win at No. 14 Wisconsin. He earned Academic All-Big Ten honors for the second time.
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 and is on schedule to graduate in December 2014. He owned a 3.59 cumulative grade-point average after the spring semester. Born December 14, 1992 in Valparaiso, Ind.