Fair or otherwise, one of the signature images of Griffin Oakes’ football career at Indiana University will be of him staring at a goal post inside Yankee Stadium.
His potential game-tying 38-yard field goal against Duke in the Pinstripe Bowl last December had been ruled wide right after sailing over the post.
Oakes, who thought it was good, learned to let it go.
“I try not to think about it too much because I can’t change it,” he said.
Focused on the future, the Greenwood Community High School product is working to continue his kicking ascent from preferred walk-on three years ago to being named All-Big Ten First Team following the 2015 season.
That’s no simple task considering Oakes made good on 24 of 29 field-goal attempts — with a long of 51 yards — on his way to being named IU’s Special Teams Player of the Week on five occasions.
With two seasons of athletics eligibility remaining, the redshirt junior’s career totals include 37 field goals in 47 tries (.787). Oakes is 76 of 80 on extra-point kicks.
He’s on course to become the Hoosiers’ second-leading all-time point producer behind former IU tailback Anthony Thompson’s 412 career points.
“There are still a couple of things I could tweak a little bit,” Oakes said. “It’s more about accuracy right now because I lost my holder (graduated punter Erich Toth) and my long-snapper (Josh Pericht) from last season.
“This is huge for me. The more I can trust those two, the more I can worry about the task at hand.”
Potential replacements, Oakes said, are sophomore Dan Godsil doing the long-snapping and redshirt senior receiver and former Carmel High School player Mitchell Paige holding the football for conversion and field-goal attempts.
Oakes also handles kickoffs for IU. Last season he boomed 52 of his 91 into the end zone for touchbacks.
Crowd involvement combined with the adrenaline rush he feels while kicking off makes this Oakes’ favorite aspect of what he does.
In last season’s 47-28 victory against Maryland, he scored 17 of his team’s points, which translated to a lot of kicking off. He tallied 10 or more points in seven of the Hoosiers’ 13 games.
In 2014, Oakes delivered a program-record 58-yard field goal in Indiana’s 37-15 loss at Maryland.
A preferred walk-on who redshirted in 2013 before becoming the Hoosiers’ starting kicker the following season, Oakes is trying to enjoy every aspect of a journey even he hadn’t envisioned.
“Coming into it I never thought things would shake out the way they did,” Oakes said. “There were plenty of times my family supported me along the way, and everything kind of fell in place.”