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Alex Hale set on returning to form as Oklahoma State football's placekicker

STILLWATER — By now, college football fans have become accustomed to the Australia-to-America voyage that punters have been taking over the last several years.

It’s becoming an increasingly common path where a former Aussie Rules Football player sees an opportunity for a free education, maybe even a pro career, through American football.

New Oklahoma State punter Hudson Kaak and his predecessor, Tom Hutton, both followed that route.

But Alex Hale does not fit that category.

The Cowboys’ 25-year-old placekicker was a soccer player, surfer and wakeskater in his hometown of Point Frederick in New South Wales, Australia, about an hour north of Sydney.

He didn’t attend anything like the Prokick Australia facility where punters learn their trade before finding a college.

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Oklahoma State super-senior Alex Hale (19) is working to return to the starting spot as the Cowboys' placekicker.
Oklahoma State super-senior Alex Hale (19) is working to return to the starting spot as the Cowboys' placekicker.

Hale took a year off after high school, then jumped head first into his venture to become a college placekicker with a move to California.

Six years later, Hale’s journey has been anything but easy, yet he finds himself with a chance to be OSU’s starting kicker once again this spring.

“My dad and I always used to think of it as an option,” Hale said. “If I ever was done with soccer, this could be something to do. Placekicking has always been something we’ve worked on on the side, and it became an option after high school.

“It was a long process, but I got here eventually.”

Hale came to America in early 2018, spending six months working with former NFL kicker John Carney at his renowned kicking camp in Carlsbad, California.

From there, Hale landed a walk-on spot at OSU, redshirting in the fall of 2018. The next year, he handled kickoffs in a couple of games while Matt Ammendola held the placekicking duties.

In 2020, Hale finally got his shot — and ran with it.

He missed just one field goal in 14 attempts and went 10-of-10 on extra points. He earned a semifinalist spot for the Lou Groza Award, given to college football’s best kicker.

Then came Bedlam in mid-November.

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OSU kicker Alex Hale was 13-of-14 on field goals in 2020 before suffering an injury during pregame warmups for Bedlam.
OSU kicker Alex Hale was 13-of-14 on field goals in 2020 before suffering an injury during pregame warmups for Bedlam.

Hale took the field for his usual pregame routine, but a fluke twist of his plant leg, he tore his ACL.

His season was over and he began the long recovery process to get back on the field for the following season.

But he wasn’t himself. He made just three of his first six field goal attempts, and missed an extra point, getting replaced by Tanner Brown, who spent two seasons as an extremely reliable option for the Cowboys.

Brown is gone and the door has reopened for Hale, who is competing with Logan Ward, Kason Shrum and Temple transfer Thomas Murray for the starting job this spring.

“Just getting back to getting comfortable, being confident in myself and the rest of the guys in the operation,” Hale said.

Comfort and confidence.

The latter, of course, can be a finicky thing for kickers. It can arrive unexpectedly and be gone with one swing of the leg.

Hale knows he’s capable. He has proven it. Now, he’s working his way back to that spot.

Along with that, he’s working with a new crew of holders, Kaak and Western Kentucky transfer punter Wes Pahl.

But Hale likes where the process is going early in spring.

“I just want to get confident in my kicking,” he said. “Just get comfortable, get back in the swing of things.

“Working on that, building a nice team chemistry. Just looking to be the best version of myself.”

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This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Oklahoma State football kicker Alex Hale set on returning to form