Record-holder Tausch concludes Irish career
Isaac Lorton | Wednesday, November 20, 2013
When reading Notre Dame’s record books, Nick Tausch is a recurring entry.
Five entries, to be exact, place the graduate student kicker in the top-10 of various kicking records in Notre Dame history. In four of those categories, Tausch holds or is tied for either the top spot or the second-place spot.
A Plano, Texas native, Tausch holds a special place for his home state. He had the chance to play football in Texas, but Notre Dame drew Tausch’s attention.
“I wanted to stay close to home, but I told myself Notre Dame would probably be the only place I would want to go to outside of being close to home,” Tausch said. “[Notre Dame] has everything – the academics, the football, the networking. You can’t beat it.”
The rookie was making the most of his choice to come to Notre Dame, as he continued to set records. On Oct. 3, 2009, in a game against Washington, Tausch booted five field goals and two extra points for a total of 17 points and propelled Notre Dame to a 37-30 overtime victory over the Huskies. The performance placed Tausch in a tie for first all-time in made field goals and points scored in a single game by a kicker.
However, the Washington game was not a fluke. With 14 straight field goals spanning from the 38-34 loss to Michigan on Sept. 19, 2009, to the 40-14 victory over Washington State on Oct. 31, 2009, Tausch, at that time, held the top spot for consecutive field goals made in a single season and consecutive field goals made in a career at Notre Dame.
The future looked bright for Tausch. He looked to be a four-year starter along with fellow recruits such as [linebacker] Manti Te’o, [tight end] Tyler Eifert and [running back] Cierre Wood.
Tausch could have been a collegiate soccer player, but he chose football instead.
“I did [consider a career in soccer],” Tausch said. “I was actually on a really good soccer team when I was younger. We won back-to-back national championships and I was getting looked at for soccer for college. And then my dad pulled me aside and brought me to some kicking camps and doing kicking camps, I got ranked high nationally. I sat down with my parents and discussed what would be a better future for me trying to get education as well, and it just seemed like football was something that would take off.”
Yet Tausch’s football career completely changed with an ankle injury later in his freshman year, prior to the Pittsburgh game on Nov. 14, 2009.
“First season freshman year, I played in nine of our 13 games,” Tausch said. “And [the injury] was just one of those fluke things that happened. … It happened in the Pittsburgh pre-game. … I was kicking and I hurt my ankle. I ended up spraining it. And then after that, I was done for that season.”
Then-junior walk-on kicker David Ruffer replaced Tausch. Ruffer closed the season by making all five of his field goal attempts, and a roller coaster for Tausch ensued. One of the fiercest competitions of the offseason was at the kicker position between Tausch and Ruffer.
By the start of the 2010 season, Ruffer had narrowly beaten out Tausch for the starting spot. By the end of 2010 season, Ruffer surpassed Tausch’s records for consecutive field goals made in a season and a career. Ruffer drilled 23 consecutive field goals, was a finalist for the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award and sealed his starting status for the 2011 season.
As a junior in 2011, Tausch did not see any game action. In 2012, he drained a 34-yard field goal and made five of six PATs in Notre Dame’s season-opening 50-10 win over Navy in Dublin, Ireland. Tausch did not play after that, as then-sophomore Kyle Brindza took over the job.
“I just do what I can to help the team,” Tausch said. “Whether it be in practice or if [Irish] coach [Brian] Kelly needed me to go in during a game or something, just be a role player.”
Tausch graduated in 2012 with a degree in sociology and could have left, but he had one more year of eligibility, so he returned to Notre Dame for another season of football and to continue his education.
“I love this place,” Tausch said. “I had a bunch of really good friends on the team that I wanted to stick around with them. I also wanted to pursue my economics minor, get that done with, because I only had a couple of credits left. So that, and obviously football brought me back.”
In the 2013 offseason, Tausch won the starting job as the place kicker. He started in Notre Dame’s season-opening 28-6 win over Temple on Aug. 31, going 4-for-4 on PATs. But with 3:19 remaining in the second quarter, Tausch missed a 39-yard field goal and has not played since.
“I was named starter at the beginning of the year,” Tausch said. “I missed a field goal. I just hit it bad I guess. But I don’t know why [I lost the job].”
Although Tausch has seen his share of highs and lows in his collegiate career and has had many other opportunities outside of football, he said he has never regretted his choice to play and stick with football.
“[The competition] has made me better as a person and a player,” Tausch said. “I think in life and in football, sports or in general, there is always someone competing to take your spot. They are trying to do at least as well as you can. It has made me work harder every day.”
Like Texas, football holds a special place in Tausch’s family, and he said he could not see himself without it. Tausch’s father, Terry, played offensive line in the NFL, while his brother Eric is a senior offensive lineman at TCU.
“I definitely think [football] has been something that has been part of our family,” Tausch said. “With my dad playing in college and in pros and my brother and I both getting scholarships, it has been in our family for such a long time. I just grew up loving the game, always watching Saturday and Sunday football games. I took up a love for it.”
Tausch does not want his football career to end with a few records here at Notre Dame.
“I’ll be moving back home to Texas, continue to work out and kick,” Tausch said. “Come back here and do pro day and see what can happen at the next level, maybe, hopefully. … That’s the plan right now.”
Contact Isaac Lorton at email@example.com