By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
After going through a tryout at a camp this summer, Jay Sedwick figured his best chance to get on the field at McLane Stadium was to run with his fellow freshmen as part of the Baylor Line.
So, he did, for the Bears’ Sept. 2 season opener against Liberty. And he was sitting in the student section again for the home games against UTSA and third-ranked Oklahoma as well.
But on Saturday, that was the 6-foot-1, 180-pound true freshman actually in the game and kicking off against the 14th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys at Boone Pickens Stadium.
“I thought I was going to be like, heart racing (pounding his chest), about to have a heart attack,” Sedwick said. “And there were some nerves, but not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. I had a lot of people praying for me, at that moment. I asked specifically to give me peace and confidence, because, whew, it’s a little different than Grace Prep, kicking in front of 400 people.”
There was a sellout crowd of 56,790 on Saturday, compared to the maybe 2,000 that were on hand when Sedwick’s Arlington Grace Prep team lost to Shiner St. Paul, 49-34, last December in the TAPPS Division IV state championship game that was played at Midway’s Panther Stadium in the Hewitt suburb of Waco.
Funny thing, though, Sedwick was the most nervous at his bye-week tryout with three other kicking hopefuls and then when he had to do it again “in front of the whole team” at last Monday’s practice.
“I was so nervous and praying the whole time, ‘Just give me peace, Lord,’’’ he said. “And then on Saturday, if I’m being honest, I had so much more confidence than I thought I was going to.”
Sedwick, pressed into duty after punter/kicker Drew Galitz suffered a torn ACL in the Sept. 30 game at Kansas State, will get a chance to kick at McLane Stadium for the first time when the Bears (0-6, 0-3) host 23rd-ranked West Virginia (4-2, 2-1) in Saturday’s 7 p.m. Homecoming game.
“I was less nervous there than I think will be at home,” he said, “because I didn’t care what any of those people thought about how I kick. But at McLane, there’s going to be all these people – a lot of them that know me – so, it’s going to be interesting. I’m excited, I’m pumped.”
At Grace Prep, where his 2017 graduating class numbered 43, Sedwick was a man for all seasons. A five-sport letterman in football, basketball, baseball, track and golf, he was a first-team all-district kicker and receiver and second-team all-state kicker in football; district defensive player of the year and second-team all-district in basketball; a region qualifier in golf; and honorable mention all-district in baseball.
In football, he also played quarterback, safety, linebacker, fullback and punter.
“I had a blast,” Sedwick said. “I did everything I could do. It was so much fun.”
With less than 200 students at the secondary level, in a school that goes from 1st to 12th grade, “you know everyone, first and last name. It was good, because it was a tight community. I really enjoyed it.” His father, Jay L. Sedwick, is a professor of educational ministries and leadership at Dallas Theological Seminary.
“He’s in Christian education, so he essentially teaches people how to be youth pastors,” the son said, “because he started out as a youth pastor himself.”
And while his dad was certainly one of those praying for Jay last Saturday in Stillwater, Okla., he wasn’t alone.
“I was pretty nervous for him,” sophomore kicker Connor Martin said. “I don’t get too nervous when I kick anymore, but I was pretty nervous when he was kicking. I wanted it really bad for him.”
Since they share the same kicking coach in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Martin knew Sedwick was good on kickoffs, “and I was hoping they’d bring him in, because I knew he was capable.”
Sedwick certainly lived up to that, booming two of his five kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks and the other three inside the 7-yard line.
On the opening kickoff of the second half, OSU’s Tyron Johnson took the kick at the 4, cut to his left and found a seam down the sideline. A block in the back penalty brought it back anyway, but Sedwick brought Johnson down near midfield with a textbook tackle around the legs.
“There was a split-second of ‘Uh-oh,’’’ Sedwick said. “And then, honestly, after that I was thinking about my angle. I guess something in me just switched it, and I was like, ‘OK, I’ve got to go make a tackle.’ It was fun. That was one of my favorite parts of the game.”