Originally published by Hoosier Huddle.
Griffin Oakes has a very interesting case to make for NFL scouts. Oakes has had a rollercoaster career in Bloomington, where he was able to finish on a high note as a senior. Oakes has flashed some occasionally brilliant accuracy throughout his kicking career, although he’s most known for having a canon for a leg. Oakes was a three-year letter winner at Greenwood High School in Indiana where he made over 72% of his field goals, including a school record 50-yarder. Oakes joined Indiana football as a walk-on. He redshirted his first collegiate season in 2013.
Oakes burst onto the scene coming off his redshirt season, showing he had some serious power. As a redshirt freshman, Oakes made 13 of his 18 field goals, while setting the Indiana school record for longest field goal with a 58-yarder against Maryland during his first start of his college career. His 58-yard bomb is the 10th longest kick in Big Ten history. Oakes demonstrated his elite skill by converting three out of four onside kicks. One of those onside kicks he recovered by himself. Oakes was a perfect 7-for-7 on PAT attempts. Oakes was IU’s special teams player of the week in four of the ten games he appeared in. He was an Academic All-Big Ten nominee as well. Following the game against Maryland when he made his 58-yarder, Oakes was selected as the Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week.
Oakes was primed for a dominant sophomore season. He earned a scholarship during preseason camp in 2015, and when the season began, he lived up to the expectations. On his way to setting several Indiana school records, Oakes finished his sophomore season making 24-of-29 field goals, nearly 83%. He made 53-of-57 extra points while making 6-of-8 attempts from 40-yards or beyond. Oakes set IU’s single-season record for field goals made and total points for a kicker as a sophomore. He connected on both of his onside kick attempts, recovering another one by himself. Oakes became the first Indiana Hoosier to win the Big Ten’s Bakken-Andersen Kicker of the Year award. He also became the first Hoosier in nearly a decade to be named First Team All-Big Ten.
Limitless potential presented itself to Oakes as he became an upperclassman. Oakes began the season on the Lou Groza Award Watch List and earned another scholarship before the 2016 season. However, his numbers dipped significantly during his junior season. Oakes connected on only 16 of his 26 field goal attempts, causing some to wonder what happened to Indiana’s dynamite kicker. However, Oakes did have a few nice moments. In a win against Ball State, Oakes nailed all three of his field goals, including a season-long 49-yarder. Oakes also hit a chip-shot in overtime to beat Michigan State in one of Indiana’s most memorable victories of the year. Oakes was hungry for redemption after his junior season came to a close.
Indiana’s choice to promote Tom Allen to head coach proved to be beneficial for Oakes. Allen places relentless focus on the special teams unit. He vowed to resurrect what was one of Indiana’s largest weaknesses. Oakes responded. He began by earning a scholarship for the third consecutive season during camp. When the season began, Oakes got the redemption he was looking for. He finished his senior year with Indiana going nearly perfect on field goal attempts: making 16-of-17. He also went 38-of-39 on PATs. The only two kicks Oakes missed as a senior were blocked. He was that close to being perfect. Oakes led the big ten in kicking percentage and finished the year second in the country. Oakes was an impressive six-time special teams player of the week for Indiana in 2017. He ended his college career by being named the conference’s Bakken-Andersen Kick of the Year for a second time. He was again selected to First Team All-Big Ten. He was awarded Indiana football’s Most Outstanding Specialist of the Year. Oakes also finished as a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award.
Simply put, Oakes was far and away one of the best kickers in the country last season. He will go down as one of the great IU football players as well. Oakes is Indiana’s program leader in field goals made with 69. He finished second in extra points with 147 and total points scored with 354. Oakes managed to become one of the best kickers in Big Ten history as well. He ranks fifth in the conference in field goals and is tied for eighth in total points scored. His career numbers include 69-of-90 field goals made – good for nearly 77%.
Oakes graduated from Indiana in December 2017 with an exercise science degree. His senior season overshadowed his disappointing junior campaign. Oakes’ performance throughout his career is worthy of an NFL roster spot. Asked to describe his kicking style using one word, Oakes said, “Power.” According to draftscout.com, Griffin Oakes is the 4th best available kicker out of 58. NFL teams do not typically use draft picks on kickers, and if they do, they’ll wait until the late rounds to do so. However, Oakes resume and huge leg will undoubtedly provide him ample opportunity to make a living in the NFL. After a strong finish to his career at IU, Oakes has the confidence in himself to become a pro.
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