On Oct. 1, 2013, Tyler Davis was in Illinois, preparing for a game against Northwestern.
At the time, Davis was a freshman forward on the Bradley University men’s soccer team.
On Saturday, Davis found himself staring down the biggest kick of his life in front of nearly 100,000 people at Beaver Stadium.
“Three years ago, if you told me I’d be kicking for Penn State, I’d say no way,” Davis said. “I had no idea and no intentions of not playing soccer and playing football.”
But there he was, faced with a 40-yard field goal with seven seconds left in regulation, trying to send Penn State to overtime against Minnesota.
The senior was a perfect 16 for 16 in career field goal attempts entering that moment.
He emerged 17 for 17.
Davis drilled the 40-yarder, shipping the Nittany Lions off to overtime where they thwarted the Golden Gophers 29-26 on Saturday night.
Penn State head coach James Franklin called Davis “money,” and didn’t feel the need to even speak to the placekicker before he trotted out to attempt the game-knotting boot.
“A lot of times coaches will go over, maybe say something to him. I don’t say anything to him,” Franklin said. “I went over to the snapper and holder and said, ‘Do your job, because that guy will.’”
That confidence in Davis extends past Franklin.
Penn State wide receiver Chris Godwin, who helped push the Nittany Lions down the field and set up Davis’ attempt, dubbed him “a model of consistency.”
“In the back of my head and in the back of everybody’s head, we knew he was going to make it,” Godwin said. “That’s just something that Tyler does.”
As for Nittany Lions safety Marcus Allen, what was going through his mind at the time?
“Water,” Allen said without hesitation. “I knew it. I knew he was going to kick it and make it, so that’s water.”
The defensive back pointed to a water bottle in the Beaver Stadium media room.
“You see that water bottle? That’s water. He’s gonna make that,” Allen quipped.
In Allen’s words, Davis was water three times against Minnesota, hitting from 19, 27 and, eventually, 40 yards out.
His second field goal broke Sam Ficken’s school record of consecutive conversions. Oddly enough, the senior didn’t even know he was close to making program history until Ficken texted him earlier this week.
But after realizing his accomplishment, Davis said it was an honor to snatch the record from his friend, and to do it under strenuous, important circumstances in a tight game only added to its meaning.
But the bearded 22-year-old didn’t allow that extra adrenaline to affect his tried-and-tested routine.
Davis jogged out to the field, 40 yards away from sending Beaver Stadium into a frenzy, and eyed up the Allstate net behind the goalpost. He peered at the scoreboard, finding something to lock on to.
“I looked up and saw a 25 on the play clock,” the kicker said.
It was the play clock on the right, directly above the student section. Lined up on the left hashmark, that’s where his kick went.
As it went through, Davis hugged his holder, Chris Gulla, and proceeded to celebrate with teammates and coaches on the sidelines.
When asked if fellow students recognize him around campus, he was honest.
“I don’t think so, maybe a couple.”
Might that change?
“I don’t know,” Davis said with a laugh. “Probably not.”
But that doesn’t really matter to him.
To Davis, the only thing he cares about is that he made that 40-yard kick.
From a goalscorer on the Bradley soccer team to an unflappable force at Penn State, Davis still can’t believe it all.
“To hit a game-tying field goal for Penn State, that’s just so crazy,” Davis said. “I’m so happy to be here.”
And the Nittany Lions are happy to have him.