After taking a year off from playing college football, Lumberton native Connor Haskins will use his last year of eligibility to kick for the N.C. State University football team next fall.
Haskins spent three years as the placekicker for The University of North Carolina at Pembroke and graduated in December with his bachelor’s degree. He will now enroll at N.C. State in hopes of earning his master’s degree in public administration.
”That’s been a huge goal for me,” Haskins said of the opportunity.
Deciding to sit out this past season at UNCP, Haskins had been looking at other colleges to use his fourth year of eligibility. He sent his film and information to the N.C State coaching staff following the Wolfpack’s game against Clemson on Oct. 31 and they got back in touch with him that week.
“I sat down and talked with coach (Dave) Doeren for about five minutes and he was excited — and he said as long as I can get into the school he’d love to have me,” he said. “They said that I could have a very good chance to get out there and kick. That was important because I had one year left and I didn’t want to waste it.”
Haskins will be eligible to practice with the team this spring and will be looked at as the replacement placekicker and kickoff specialist for the Wolfpack.
During his three years at UNCP, Haskins connected on 72 percent of his field goal tries with the longest coming from 50 yards out. His college numbers mirror the numbers he had his senior year at Lumberton High School when he went 8-of-11 on field goal tries, converted 80 percent of his extra point tries and had a season-long field goal of 45 yards.
The consistency and leg strength he brings could provide an immediate impact for a Wolfpack team that had their struggles in the kicking game in 2015. Freshman placekicker Kyle Bambard handled all of the field goal attempts for N.C. State with a 50 percent success rate, his longest coming from 37 yards out. He was 0-for-4 from beyond 40 yards.
”I wanted to provide State someone they can rely on,” Haskins said. “A lot of times this season they would be in field-goal range and go for it on fourth down instead. I want them to be comfortable with me going out there and getting three points.”
The pressure that will come from kicking for a Power 5 school in front of 50,000 plus fans every Saturday is something Haskins is ready to embrace. He said playing at UNC Charlotte during his sophomore season at UNCP was one of his best experiences because of how he fed off the large crowd.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s just me and dad out there at Pembroke on a Tuesday or in front of 20, 30 or 40 thousand plus people, it’s all on you,” he said. “I’m excited to get into that atmosphere and I’m confident that I can handle it.”
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.