Bradley Handwerger / Eyewitness Sorts
FAIRHOPE, Ala. – Chas Henry stood on the field, patiently waiting for the reporter to end his question about Josh Jasper.
He then stole a glance at the All-American kicker, shaking his head when thinking about how to answer a question about the former LSU Tiger, his nemesis the past two seasons in the Southeastern Conference.
“I remember him getting a first down and beating us,” said Henry, who spent a career punting at Florida. “That’s pretty much what I remember.”
Indeed, even at the Senior Bowl, where Jasper and Henry are teammates for the week, the LSU kickers penchant for converting fake punts has followed him.
The kick Henry remembers came in October with LSU trailing the Gators in the Swamp and time running out. But head coach Les Miles gave the OK for a fake field goal, punter Derek Helton tossed a picture perfect bounce pass into Jasper’s hands and the kicker scrambled for a first down.
LSU went on to score a touchdown, keeping alive hopes at that time of winning another SEC West title.
He also was successful this past season on fakes against McNeese State and Alabama. Against the Crimson Tide, his fake punt went for a first down on the opening possession of the second half.
It’s that ability to gain the pesky few yards needed for a first-down conversion that Jasper appears to excel at. It’s also something he’d like to tout in what will be a spring full of interviews with NFL scouts and coaches.
“It can’t hurt,” Jasper said. “They see that I’m a little bit more athletic than some of the other kickers. They do recognize that. Hopefully that will increase my stock just a little bit.”
Nevertheless, according to draft experts, it’ll be his ability to be pure on kick after kick as well as leg strength on kickoffs that could set him aside come April’s draft.
“Jasper is probably going to be among three or four kickers that have a good chance to get drafted,” ESPN analyst Todd McShay said, before adding, “A lot of guys get eliminated if they’re good kickers and kind of even with somebody else, but if you can kick off, it makes a big difference.”
For what it’s worth, Jasper said he doesn’t pay attention to draft status. He’s just looking for an opportunity to kick at the next level regardless of whether he’s selected in the draft or if he ends up having to sign as an undrafted rookie free agent.
Jasper ended his LSU career making 45 of 53 career kicks. His 84.9 percent make rate is best in LSU history and second all-time in the SEC.
Nevertheless, his week in Mobile will be different than nearly all of the rosters of the South and North squads. For kickers, the opportunities are few and far between.
“It’s a lot different,” Jasper said. “They (other players) are already in the NFL draft and they’re just trying to bump their stock up. I’m just trying to keep my stock where it’s at, if not bump it up.”
And yet, for Jasper, it might all come back to those fakes. The Buffalo Bills staff is coaching the South team and for a brief minute, Jasper’s possibilities put a twinkle in their eyes.”
“I was saying lets try to put something in the game plan,” Jasper said. “But it wouldn’t be fair. They’re not allowed to rush. (The coaches) were excited when they got us thinking about things we can do.”