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MSU-N Game Day Feature: A weapon not to be overlooked

MSU-N senior kicker Tommy Langley has a kicker's story that brought him to Havre

 

September 8, 2017

Colin Thompson

Montana State University-Northern senior Tommy Langley was one of the top kickers in the Frontier Conference last season. And, after a summer spent working out with NFL players, he plans on being that same weapon again for the Lights this fall.

On the football field, weapons come in all shapes and sizes. And they come at all positions too. And that includes kickers.

If you have a good kicker, a guy you know will go out there and score points for you, well, then you have a leg up on the competition.

The Montana State University-Northern Lights know they have one of those. They have a guy who will go out and do his job when he's called upon.

In the Frontier Conference, that's rare too. At the NAIA level, finding a kicker who can make long field goals, who can be consistent, and who can really boot the ball, that's a rarity because when they're really good, they're playing at a higher level most of the time.

Northern seenior Tommy Langley is really good though, and he's playing at the NAIA level. And his story is one that is right out of a Hollywood movie - literally.

Ever see the movie, a true story called We Are Marshall? It's a great football story, and there's a part in it where the team recruits a Marshall soccer player to come and be the new Thundering Herd kicker.

Well, that's Tommy Langley's story too. Like so many kickers, soccer is how Langley ended up playing football, and, the world's game eventually brought him to Northern.

"I Played soccer pretty much all my life," Langley, a native of Tracy, California said. "I played up to my sophomore year, but then I got injured, and that wasn't going to allow me to keep my spot playing on the soccer team. So I had a friend on the football team who told me I should come try out as a kicker, and the next thing I know, I'm playing in varsity games. And from then on, I was a football player."

As it turns out, Langley was a good football player too. He grew up a football fan, so, while he was a soccer player at heart, football wasn't foreign to him either.

"I've always loved football, but when I was young, my parents told me I couldn't try football until high school, so I played soccer, and I did well it at and just kind of continued with that. But I've always had a love for the game of football, I've always watched it and I've always been a fan."

Eventually, Langley's love of football became a reality, kicking for Tracy High School. And he did well enough that he found a spot kicking for Modesto Junior College, where he was an All-League standout for two seasons.

And that led him to Northern, where he earned a scholarship from head coach Aaron Christensen and took over Northern's kicking duties last season.

And right away, the Lights knew they had found a weapon in Langley, who in his debut season, made 9-of-12 field goals, including setting a school record with a 51-yarder on the final day of the season against College of Idaho last November at Blue Pony Stadium.

Langley made 75 percent of his FG attempts and 99 percent of his PAT's last season, which, by all accounts, should of earned him All-Conference honors.

But, accolades or not, Langley knew he had a big season for the Lights, and, he says, he's always had the confidence to know he can deal with the pressure of kicking, and, he knew he could be a big help to the Lights, even before he got to Havre.

"I felt like I kicked really well at Modesto (JC)," Langley said. "So that gave me the confidence to know I could come here and kick at a higher level of football and do well.

"As for dealing with the pressure of kicking, I think for me, soccer helped a lot because I played goalie," he continued. "When you're a goalie, all eyes are on you, whether it's penalty kicks or whatever, it's on you to make the saves. It's the same with kicking. All eyes are on me when I got out there. My job is to make every kick, every PAT, every time. And that is a lot of pressure, but I think I've always handled it well. I actually think I am better with that pressure. The other big thing is, a kicker is really nothing without his teammates. The long snapper and holder. They deserve credit, because without them, nothing works. Without them, I'm really nothing, so that's a total team effort right there."

Playing under pressure is nothing new to a kicker. It's part of the job, and, the life of a kicker can be a weird one. Practice can be, let's say, boring at times, and even in games, a kicker's routine and place in the game is just different than any other player on the field.

But, it's a life and position Langley loves, and embraces. And, it's also one he's worked hard at to get better.

This summer, Langley has worked out with a pair of NFL players involved in the life of special teams, and he says, it's only served to help him become better at his craft.

"Yes, that's been really good, I have been able to work out with a couple of local (California) guys who have a lot of NFL experience," Langley said. "One was a local guy who played as a wide receiver/kick returner for the San Diego Chargers last year. The other was a guy who was the (Indianapolis) Colts' long-snapper for four years, and got picked up by the Jacksonville Jaguars this summer. Both those guys are Modesto area guys, and it was great to train with them, and learn from them."

And with a great first season under his belt, and a summer's worth of training to be an even better kicker, Langley is shooting for the stars this season.

Colin Thompson

Northern senior Tommy Langley is a ready for a big season.

Of all the returning kickers in the Frontier Conference, Langley was second among them in scoring last year, and first in field goal percentage. So, by the numbers, Langley returns for his senior season as simply one of the best kickers in the Frontier.

But more importantly, he is the Lights' kicker, and, he wants nothing more than to go out and do his job every time his number is called. It's not a glorious life, it's not the position on the football team that gets all the girls so to speak. But, it's Tommy Langley's position, and in him, the Lights have a true weapon.

"I'm excited for this season," Langley said. "I expect to be kicking a lot of PAT's this year, because our offense is going to be really good. I'm really looking forward to going out there and doing my job. I love it, and I think this is going to be a great season for us."

 

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