Name: Ryan Pretorius 
Hometown: Durban, South Africa
High School: Westville Boys
Position: Place-Kicker
Year: Senior
Last season: Lou Groza Award semifinalist; led Buckeyes in scoring with 102 points (18-of-23 FG’s, 48-of-49 PAT’s)
This season: Returning place-kicker; Lou Groza Award candidate

COLUMBUS, Ohio Ryan Pretorius played rugby and soccer in high school and cites his favorite sports as “anything with a ball.” Football being no exception, he decided to visit the United States with the intention of possibly playing the sport on a collegiate level. After submitting tapes of himself to various programs, he was offered the spot of a preferred walk-on at Ohio State in 2004. 

The Buckeyes held their Spring Kicking Classic during practice Thursday, a day for Pretorius and his fellow kickers to share the spotlight. The senior-to-be was on his game, splitting the uprights with confidence from every distance and angle.

“I try to build on confidence and that comes from experience,” Pretorius said. “I’ve been blessed with the experiences I’ve had here. I am extremely confident going into this season.”

Being the oldest member of the squad he celebrates his 29th birthday May 2 he knows the commitment that comes with being a kicker.

“As a kicker, you’re responsible for everything,” he said. “I’ve been lucky to have great snappers and great holders. But if you miss, there’s no one else at fault.”

The Durban, South Africa, native won the job as the Ohio State place-kicker during preseason camp last year over fellow senior kicker Aaron Pettrey, who handled most of the Buckeyes’ kickoffs in 2007.

“Aaron is a phenomenal kicker,” he said. “A lot of the young guys are also doing well. We have a lot of depth at the kicker position.”

Promising to be very solid in special units this season, the place-kicker with a 50-yard range hasn’t changed anything about his technique. He aims for height and distance with each kick and strives for accuracy and perfection each season.

When asked if he’s matured over the past year, Pretorius laughs, “you mean, besides being the oldest of the group.”

Age may play a small factor in his successes, but in reality, it has nothing to do with it. Pretorius excels at his role because of his experiences and pressure situations on one of college football’s biggest stages.

And he’s loving every minute of it.

~ Leah Abouahmed,