COLUMBIA, Mo. — Perhaps at the expense of his personal branding, Missouri’s “Thiccer Kicker” is looking less thick these days.
Harrison Mevis, Mizzou’s record-setting junior placekicker, is listed at the same 243 pounds as last season, but to the naked eye, the player whose physique inspired an infamous nickname — and a double bacon cheeseburger at a local eatery — clearly has worked on his fitness this offseason.
With trusty kickoff specialist Sean Koetting out of eligibility, Mevis hoped to take on Mizzou’s kickoff duties season, which requires more kicks per game and a lot more running. He’s already proven to be one of the best field goal kickers in the country the last two years, despite a few midseason hiccups last fall. Now he’s out to become a complete kicker who can handle every role on game days.
Knowing he’d have more stress on his leg this year, Mevis stressed his conditioning this offseason.
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“Just get it to where I can utilize all my power and stay smooth and … hopefully I won’t kill off my leg this year,” he said. “But being a little more fit, able to crunch, get downfield and be more explosive, that always helps.”
“Harrison and I are on the same diet,” Tigers coach Eli Drinkwitz joked earlier in preseason camp. “We keep saying we’re on a diet. But he’s trying to do all the right things consistently. But I did ask him if his mom brought some cinnamon rolls (to Columbia), and I don’t think he told me the truth. I don’t think he wanted to share them with me.”
After two nearly perfect seasons in 2020-21, when he converted 40 of 45 field goals and made all 69 of his extra points, Mevis slogged through a mini-slump last fall. On 28 field goal attempts, he had more missed kicks (six) than his first two seasons combined. No miss was more gut-wrenching than his chip shot at the end of regulation at Auburn on Sept. 24, a 26-yard miss that would have won the game. Instead, the Tigers lost by a field goal in overtime.
A week later, Mevis was a major reason Mizzou hung with No. 1 Georgia, booting five field goals in the 26-22 scare the Tigers put into the eventual national champions.
How did he manage his best performance a week after the low point of his career?
“Come game day I have a switch that I flip and … I’m locked in. I’m dialed in,” he said. “Nothing else outside matters. It’s right here, right now. … When I run out on the field, I kind of I call it a blackout phase.”
Mevis has another year of eligibility beyond the 2023 season if he chooses to use it, but he’s already writing his own section of the Mizzou record book. He’s second in team history with 62 career field goals, four behind all-time leader Andrew Baggett. Mevis already holds the Mizzou record for field goals of 50 yards or longer with 10. He’s fourth all-time in scoring with 288 points, 74 points away from former kicker Jeff Wolfert’s career mark. His 56-yarder at Boston College in 2021 is the third-longest field goal in Mizzou history. Tom Whelihan’s 62-yarder against Colorado in 1986 is the record kick to reach — and within Mevis’ range, he said.
“I’d say 75 (yards) and in I can make,” he said. “But let’s be realistic. We’re not going to have a kick that far in the game. If it comes up, then I’m gonna do my job to the best of my ability.”
Knowing Mevis won’t be around forever, Drinkwitz recruited a successor this offseason, freshman Blake Craig from Liberty North High in Kansas City. Craig is pushing for the kickoff duties.
“He has a huge leg,” Mevis said. “He has huge potential. Missouri’s kicking is gonna be really good for the next five years.”
“I know Harrison’s excited about trying to be the kickoff guy, but don’t write that down in pen yet,” Drinkwitz said. “Blake Craig’s coming, and I’ve been very impressed with the way Blake has kicked the ball and the way he’s consistently attacked every single day. So make sure Harrison doesn’t count his chickens before they hatch.”
What Craig doesn’t have is a burger with his name on it. In 2021, Campus Bar & Grill in downtown Columbia introduced the Thiccer Kicker Burger, featuring two beef patties, four strips of bacon, cheese and a fried onion ring.
Maybe ditch the bacon and onion ring this fall?
“We’ve been talking about trying to be at a weight that he can consistently play with and keep it under control,” Drinkwitz said. “We don’t want him to lose any NIL value by not being the ‘Thiccer Kicker.’ So it’s a fine line there.”
Schrader honored to be a caption
Mizzou announced its six team captains Thursday, as selected by their teammates. Quarterback Brady Cook, offensive tackle Javon Foster, defensive lineman Darius Robinson and linebacker Chad Bailey repeat as captains after serving the same roles last season. The team’s new captains are running back Cody Schrader and linebacker Ty’Ron Hopper.
Schrader, a St. Louis native from Lutheran South High, began his career at Division II Truman State before joining the Tigers as a walk-on last season. He became a starter last fall, finished as the team’s leading rusher and earned a scholarship. Now, he’s a captain.
“I think that’s the biggest honor throughout my journey of playing college football,” Schrader said. “I think this is one that’s most special. I was looking back at my journey and seeing how far I came to get to this place and from the team to vote me captain is nothing but special and something I’ll always remember.”