In the course of a few days this week, Sam Ficken went from passing his securities trader exam to signing an NFL contract to blast kicks for a playoff-bound team.
The whirlwind for the former Nittany Lion kicker took him from a brokerage firm in Connecticut to the NFC West-leading Los Angeles Rams, who sit at 10-4. Ficken replaces Pro Bowl kicker Greg Zuerlein, who underwent season-ending back surgery.
As he told the Los Angeles Times, Ficken was just waiting for the opportunity. And now he has it.
"I've believed in myself, I've believed in the work that I've put in and it was just a matter of time for me to be given a chance," he said.
His brokerage employer wished him well, he said.
"They said they hoped they never saw me again, which is funny, obviously," he said. "I think they're super thrilled for me.
"I've talked to them and they're more than excited for me about the opportunity."
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In a 12-man competition that Rams special teams coordinator John Fassel jokingly deemed a "Gong Show," the Penn State product beat out NFL pros Garrett Hartley, former 2nd-round pick Roberto Aguayo, Dan Carpenter and others.
Ficken, 25, has no experience outside of training camp with the Jaguars and Chiefs. But he knows what's at stake, as he joins a team with Super Bowl aspirations that has been used to having a dependable kicker with a big boot:
"The kicker always has one job and one goal and that's to make his kicks when given the opportunity, so it's not something I haven't done before," he said after his first practice, adding, "I've kicked in preseason games. Everyone I think puts a [label] on the fact that I haven't kicked in a regular-season game, but again, the day-to-day job stays the exact same.
"Put it through the uprights and take care of business."
The Rams face the Tennessee Titans, who are also chasing a playoff spot in the AFC, this Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. The game will air on FOX.