Tyler Bass could always kick a ball far.
High school is where things got real.
“When I first started in 9th grade, I think I was kicking 35 yards. And then, junior year, I was kicking 60 yards. It just kinda jumped,” Bass said.
There was no secret sauce. Like any kid, he just wanted to see what he could do.
“I started hitting 50 yarders. Then, I kept getting farther and farther and I kept making them. I kept pushing myself and just kept making them,” Bass said. “I definitely knew I could hit it pretty good.”
His range is quite a bit longer now. In fact, with a wind the Bills could be in Bass field goal range at the 43 yard line.
Their own 43.
“I think I hit a 75 (yard kick). I didn’t record it. I just hit it on a really windy day back home. It went in and I was like ‘all right’,” Bass said. “I would say 75 is my farthest, but I’ve hit 70 multiple times.”
Bills long snapper Reid Ferguson says Bass is a good kid and a hard worker. His big leg might be extra helpful in Buffalo.
“He’s able to cut through the wind up here,” Ferguson said. “He bombed a couple at practice the other day that kinda caught the attention of the team.”
While length is no problem for Bass, accuracy might be. He was only 72nd in the country last season among all NCAA kickers after making just over 71% of his field goals. His career average of 79.4% on field goals is only a hair better than Stephen Hauschka’s last two seasons, which were the worst of Hauschka’s career.
The silver lining of those numbers is that Bass was kicking on the extended college hashmarks. The NFL hashmarks are only as wide as the goalposts. It means any straight kick will go through or, at worst, hit an upright. However, college hashmarks are ten feet wider on each side. It forces some college kickers to make kicks at an angle.
“It is more a straightforward kick (in the NFL),” Bass said. “It’s a good adjustment to make. It’s a good upgrade.”
Bass does point out that college kickers know very well how to navigate the wider hashmarks and accuracy issues must be improved other ways. Bass wants to work on his consistency. He wants to treat every kick like the same kick, whether it’s from 30 or 60 yards.
“At the end of the day, it’s still a kick,” he said.
Unseating Hauschka as the Bills kicker won’t be easy. However, Hauschka and the other vets in the kicking room have made it very easy for Bass to begin his NFL transition.
“Even thought you’re a rookie, they respect you and they just want you to be the best version of yourself,” Bass said. “We’re just here to get better. The veterans, they’re super nice around here. The coaches are super nice. Just ask and they’ll answer your questions.”
Bass understands he can only control what he can control this preseason. With no preseason games, his only chances to impress coaches and win the job will come in practice. He’s already faced some Sean McDermott invented pressure kicks.
Bass would not reveal exactly how well he’s fared on them. Whatever his success rate so far, he has not been rattled.
“We’ve had a few and I’ve made a few,” Bass said. “But, after each one, I’m onto the next kick.”
With Bass, there’s always the chance that next kick goes very far.