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Cole Becker ready to compete for CU Buffs

Kicker went 17-for-19 on field goals and 45-for-45 on extra points in last two high-school seasons

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Cole Becker starred at Rocklin (Calif.) High School and is now set to join the Colorado Buffaloes this summer. (Photo by Damian Burton/Courtesy of Cole Becker)

Having never played football before he got to high school, Cole Becker certainly didn’t think he’d be going to college on a football scholarship.

Later this month, however, Becker will join the rest of Colorado’s freshman class in moving to Boulder and getting ready for next season.

“It’s kind of crazy looking back when it all started, thinking I was just going to be a high school player and that was about it,” said Becker, the first scholarship placekicker signed by CU since James Stefanou in 2017. “Now I’m at a Division I top tier football school getting my school paid for. I really couldn’t ask for more, so I just can’t wait to get up there.”

Originally committed to Iowa State, Becker changed his mind when he got the opportunity from CU.

“Iowa State was a good opportunity for me, but for me, it was a purely football opportunity,” said Becker, from Rocklin (Calif.) High School. “With Colorado, I sort of have a more well-rounded aspect of the college experience, which I’ve always wanted.”

The fact that Becker had favorable options is a testament to the work he’s put in since he first played the game as a freshman at Rocklin in 2017. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Becker was a soccer and basketball player while growing up, but a family friend who kicked for Boise State would take him to the park to kick for fun.

“That sort of piqued my interest,” he said.

After playing several different positions as a freshman, Becker had an avulsion fracture in his hip as a sophomore. That wound up costing him an entire year of basketball and left him rehabbing the injury for almost an entire year.

Ironically, that injury, which occurred while he was kicking, wound up sparking his development as a kicker.

“I noticed when I finally got back out on the field, I was hitting better balls more consistent and then started to get my range back further with the strength in my hips back,” he said. “I sort of saw that there’s an opportunity at kicking.”

Becker has seized the opportunity. According to Maxpreps.com, went 17-for-19 on field goals and 45-for-45 on extra points in his last two seasons at Rocklin. He said the longest field goal he has made in practice is 68 yards and that he hits about 90 percent of his field goals from about 57 yards and in.

“When I started going to camps is when it started to become an actual idea in my mind (of playing in college) because that was the first time that I was really able to compare myself to the nation’s best and see where I was at,” he said. “I ended up being closer to the top than I thought I was. I think that even motivated me more.”

Becker, in fact, comes to CU as the No. 1-rated kicker in the class of 2021 by KohlsKicking.com. According to his evaluation on KohlsKicking.com, Becker is “a very good specialist and is able to do things on the football field that other good players cannot. Becker should be able to play early in college.”

Becker said his No. 1 ranking is “obviously a huge honor,” but hasn’t let it get to his head.

“It’s just one more mental hurdle for myself,” he said. “But I honestly think it’s actually a pro because it’s sort of getting me into that correct mental state of expecting the best for myself but also realizing that other people are going to expect the best for me, too, and I just have to step up to the level.

“My motto has always been: Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. That No. 1 ranking sort of worried me when I got it but it hasn’t slowed down my work ethic at all. If anything, it pushes me to be better.”

As the lone scholarship kicker on the team next season, Becker has a chance to play right away for the Buffaloes. He does, however, have to win a competition with incumbent Evan Price, a sophomore walk-on who made six of eight field goal attempts and all 15 extra points last year.

“I don’t think I’m gonna walk in and get the job (automatically),” he said. “I think it’s still something that’s got to be earned, scholarship or not. Evan’s been there and he’s been successful in his own job and it’s not like he should have to just accept that I’m going to walk in and take the job. It’s going to be something that I’ll (have to) earn for sure and I’m confident that I will.”