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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
June 8, 2024

A leg well traveled

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With four seconds remaining in a 38-38 game against Ole Miss last weekend, Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin tapped his walk-on kicker on the shoulder pad in hopes of a walk-off victory.
Aggie sophomore kicker Josh Lambo stepped onto the field making just his second start as a kicker in his life. He received a word of encouragement from offensive lineman Jake Matthews before lining up for what many believed was the kick of his life.
With more than 5 million viewers watching on ESPN and 60,950 in attendance at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Lambo couldn’t help but be calm.
Lambo hadn’t always been a football placekicker. As a matter of fact, he was never a football player. As a teenager, Lambo was a star soccer player.
“The very first time I kicked a football I was 10 and I actually won the title for the [NFL] punt, pass and kick competition,” Lambo said. “I asked my parents after that, ‘Hey, can I play football?’ and they said, ‘No’ and I said, ‘Alright, I’ll go back to soccer.'”
As a goalkeeper he played for the U.S. U-17 and U-20 teams before he reached his ultimate goal. On Jan. 18, 2008, he was drafted eighth overall in the Major League Soccer SuperDraft to FC Dallas.
“[Being drafted] was something I had always dreamed off,” Lambo said. “It was something I had always worked toward.”
Playing mostly as a backup during his first two seasons, Lambo enjoyed the perks of living as a professional athlete.
“Just being a professional athlete was so cool,” he said. “Getting several days off a week, going golfing pretty much whenever you want to because you ‘work’ for only about four hours a day. It was awesome. I tried to make sure the money and status never got to my head, thankfully, and that did a really good job of keeping me level-headed.”
Lambo was was waived by FC Dallas at the end of the 2011 season. After a trial with D.C. United in 2012 didn’t work out, he began to explore his options.
His brother, Zack, who was a Wisconsin soccer player, lined him up with former University of Wisconsin kicker, Taylor Mehlhaff.
“Once I was essentially out of a job and didn’t get any contracts I wanted to take, I contacted my brother’s friend,” Lambo said. “I drove over to New Orleans where he was and [in] two sessions with him made a couple slight tweaks to my swing and it just kind of clicked.”
In one YouTube highlight that has become an Aggie favorite in recent weeks, Lambo is seen drilling a 70-yard kick through the uprights.
“In the summer of 2012, I had a couple of highlight tapes I had made with [Mehlhaff], and I just sent them out to a bunch of schools,” Lambo said. “I really wanted to finish my education so I said, ‘I might as well try this whole football thing.’ I emailed a bunch of coaches, and A&M responded.”
Lambo spent last season as Taylor Bertolet’s backup, kicking two extra-points in garbage time. When Bertolet missed two extra-point tries against SMU on Sept. 21, Lambo entered the game and has been the Aggie starting kicker since.
“We’re teammates, we’re always going to root each other on,” Lambo said of Bertolet. “I mean, if he was out there kicking the game winner, I’d be excited for him.”
On Saturday, Bertolet and the rest of the Aggies in uniform were more than supportive. Quarterback Johnny Manziel and several teammates could be seen in a circle of prayer as Lambo walked on the field.
The snap was higher than preferred and slightly inside but punter and holder Drew Kaser handled it. Lambo’s right leg reached back like it had so many times before as a goalkeeper, now in hopes of making it through the goalposts.
He uncoiled into the football which sailed 33-yards through the uprights. Lambo slid on his knees in perfect soccer fashion and grinned from ear to as he was eventually carried off on his teammates shoulders.
“Right there at the end, we had a lot of confidence in Lambo,” said receiver Travis Labhart. “We knew he could make the field goal.”
After a lengthy celebration with the Aggie faithful in attendance, Lambo regained his breath and explained to reporters that it was more about complimenting the team effort than kicking the game-winning field goal.
“Surprisingly enough, I really wasn’t that nervous,” Lambo said after the game. “It feels so great, not to kick the game-winning field goal, but to do something to help my teammates and reward their effort. They’re the guys that are out there getting beat up and getting knocked down and tackling people, making big plays. Just the fact that I got to do anything to help that out, that was the best part about it.”
Sumlin preaches to his players that the best player each week will get the starting nod, no matter if they are a five-star recruit or a walk on. Lambo’s performance in the waning moments Saturday in Oxford, Miss., served as proof to his assurance.
“Here is a guy a year ago who nobody knew his name, and he came in and helped us as a walk-on,” Sumlin said. “He is an excellent example for our program. He kept fighting and worked hard to play, and the best players are going to play. I was happy for the team and I was particularly happy for him because of what he has gone through and his particular situation. It was a pressure situation for him to be in.”

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