By James Hemker
This article is part of a running series The Daily sports staff will be publishing on seniors.
Two-time All-Pac-12 senior Jet Toner has emerged as one of the most accurate kickers in Stanford football history over his past two seasons of competition. His sophomore year, Toner converted 21 of 26 field goals, notching the second-most-completed field goals in a season in school history. That year, Toner was perfect with his extra points, making all 54 of them, which was the second-most by a Cardinal player in a season without a miss. His junior campaign ended with just a single missed field goal (14-15) to break Stanford’s single-season field goal percentage record (.933). To date, the two-time Pac-12 All-Academic kicker has made all 88 of his PATs and 35 of 41 field goals, both of which currently top the school’s record books.
Toner shared his thoughts with The Daily on the coming season, the duties of the kicker and his time on the field at Stanford.
The Stanford Daily (TSD): Do you remember your first Stanford practice? And were you nervous coming in?
Jet Toner (JT): There are two parts to that. There is the first practice of the summer, which is more weightlifting and training, and then there is the first practice of camp. Both of those were pretty similar in the sense that there was a very big difference from what I was used to in high school. I wasn’t necessarily nervous, but it was extremely intense. I remember being a little shocked because of how different it was. In my first camp I performed pretty poorly because I was adjusting to so many things, but it’s funny now. We’ve come a long way.
TSD: You grew up in Hawaii, so was coming to college in the mainland a thing you had been set on for a while, or did it develop as you got older?
JT: Yeah I would say that it was what I had in mind growing up. I have four older siblings, and three went to school in California, and one went to the East Coast. I always had the idea of going somewhere on the mainland. I didn’t always imagine that it would be Stanford.
TSD: When did Stanford come into that picture?
JT: I realized I could play at a collegiate level at the end of sophomore year in high school. In my junior year, things started clicking for me, and I was pretty confident in my abilities. When I realized that Stanford was an option, it was a pretty big deal for me and my family. Obviously it’s the best mix of sports and academics, so I’m glad I’m here.
TSD: Has it dawned on you that this is your senior year?
JT: Sort of. It’s a mixture of just focusing on one week at a time. I did also redshirt, so I do have the option of coming back or moving on, but a lot of that will depend on how the season goes. But right now I am just focusing on what is happening now. It’s all about what’s happening in the moment.
TSD: Do you have any personal goals?
JT: The expectation and standard that we as kickers are chasing is perfection. It’s pretty much impossible to attain, but that’s the goal. The goal every game is to make every kick and to give the defense the best possible field position as far as kickoffs go. For field goals it’s just to knock them all through regardless of what each attempt looks like. Pretty simple really.
TSD: Last year you only missed one field goal, so you have narrow margins for improvement.
JT: Yeah, I mean there is always room for improvement, and there are always things I can do better.
TSD: Now that Jake Bailey is gone, will you be taking over kickoff duties? And is there significantly different preparation for kickoffs from field goals?
JT: Yeah, that is the goal. If I keep on kicking well, then I’ll probably be doing kickoffs. It’s a bit of a different process. There is a similar motion but you’re trying to get the ball down the field rather than [toward] a specific target.
TSD: Are you a superstitious person? Is there a ritual you have to do before every game or kick?
JT: No, I don’t think I’m very superstitious. I think a lot of my confidence comes from my preparation that I’ve done during the week. I wouldn’t consider it superstition, but all the quirks that I may have are part of my process to make me feel my best on game day.
TSD: Is there a process you go through mentally after the field goal unit has been called and while you are waiting for the snap?
JT: Yeah, I have a few keywords that I go through, and then I pick out a target and start looking at it. Then I focus in again on the rep. The keywords are there to keep me in the moment and not worry about anything else. After that I just let my body take over. I’m never looking at what the defense is doing. Every kick is the same for me.
TSD: Does icing really have an effect on kickers, or is it sort of expected by this point that the timeout will come if it’s available?
JT: As far as the process goes, it doesn’t affect me at all. If I get iced then I just take another kick and that’s the extent of it. We don’t expect it, but we don’t not expect it. It’s just if it happens it happens, and we will take the kick again.
TSD: In potential game-winning or game-tying kicks does the pressure get to you? How do you deal with it and what’s running through your head?
JT: Every kick is the same for me, and so nothing changes regardless of the situation. The idea of pressure that I learned here was that pressure is just a made-up concept. It’s about being worried about the future or something that happened in the past. In the present there is no pressure, and it’s something that I have been trained to accept and it is something that makes us a great team.
TSD: With a different opponent each week, do you have to change your preparations at all, or is kicking the same regardless of opponent?
JT: For field goals it is constant regardless of opponent. For kickoffs there can be some minor changes between teams, but even that is pretty much the same. We might install different packages, but for the most part it will stay the same throughout the year.
TSD: Stanford has a tough out-of-conference schedule this year. How did you react when you saw it, and what are some matchups you are looking forward to each year?
JT: When I first saw it I felt that it was kind of expected, like that’s on brand for Stanford. I would have been more surprised if we played an FCS team for example. I didn’t flinch, and I don’t think anyone else did on the team. This is exactly why we came here, to play those tough games and not back down. Honestly, all of our non-conference games will be great. Going up against UCF away will be great, and I think that will be a fun atmosphere. Northwestern too will be a great game. I mean they are all going to be great games, and I’d rather be in a competitive game than just blowouts against three lesser teams.
TSD: I’m sure it seems far away right now, but have you given thought to what you want your future to look like?
JT: I’d love to play in the NFL. I love football, and I want to play for as long as I can. I love kicking and being part of a team and all that goes into it. The goal is to play for as long as I can and just keep making kicks.
This transcript has been lightly edited and condensed.
Contact James Hemker at jahemker ‘at’ stanford.edu.