Seattle Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka was ready to follow a family tradition and attend dental school after his only season at N.C. State.
Then NFL teams started calling, and Hauschka put those plans on hold.
Seven seasons and two Super Bowl appearances later, it’s clear Hauschka’s decision to forgo fillings for field goals was the right one.
Hauschka enters Sunday’s game against New England as the NFL’s all-time postseason leader in field-goal percentage, having gone for 12-for-12 in six postseason games.
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“I’ve moved past it now,” Hauschka said Thursday during the Seahawks’ media availability. “I don’t really want to go back through six years of school at this point.”
Hauschka took a circuitous route to the NFL, playing three season at a Division III school in Vermont before kicking at N.C. State as a graduate transfer.
Hauschka, who grew up in Needham, Mass., said one of his Middlebury College coaches contacted a friend on Tom O’Brien’s staff at N.C. State about Hauschka playing for the Wolfpack.
Hauschka arrived in Raleigh as a 21-year-old walk-on in 2007, the same year Seahawks teammates Russell Wilson and J.R. Sweezy enrolled as freshmen. Hauschka lived in University Towers with all of the freshmen, who were several years younger than he was.
Did they ask him to buy them beer?
“Yeah, maybe,” Hauschka said. “Probably.”
Hauschka applied to dental schools while in Raleigh, getting accepted to UCLA, Tufts and Boston University. Hauschka has three family members who were dentists: His brother, Andy, has a practice in Charlotte.
But after Hauschka made 16-of-18 field goals for the Wolfpack, NFL scouts began showing interest.
Root canals could wait.
“That’s when I realized that I should give this a shot and see if I could make a career out of this,” Hauschka said. “I put dental school on hold and started training for combine-type stuff.”
The Vikings signed Hauschka as an undrafted free agent in 2008. Hauschka played for five teams during his first three season before finding a home in Seattle in 2011.
Hauschka has made 87.6 field goal percentage (113 of 129) in four years with the Seahawks, who gave him a three-year contract worth $9.15 million last offseason.
Hauschka connected on 31 of 37 field goals this season, and nailed a franchise-record, 58-yard kick in a Week 8 win against the Panthers. He made a 37-yarder in the playoff win against Carolina.
Though Hauschka did not attempt a field goal in the NFC Championship Game win against Green Bay, his successful onside kick was a huge part of the Seahawks’ comeback from a 16-0 deficit.
Hauschka, who was 2-for-2 on field goals in last year’s Super Bowl win against Denver, will kick Sunday against his childhood team. Hauschka grew up outside of Boston rooting for the Patriots, and has a framed, autographed picture of former New England kicker Adam Vinatieri.
He watched on TV when Vinatieri delivered two Super Bowl-winning kicks for the Patriots, including a 41-yarder with four seconds left to beat the Panthers 32-29 in Super Bowl XXXVIII.
“When they won that first Super Bowl on Vinatieri’s foot, that was the craziest thing,” Hauschka said. “I can only imagine what it feels like as a Seahawks fan to watch that and see our first Super Bowl last year. I’m excited about it.”