UCLA began its football season at Stanford Saturday, September 8 when Jimmy Rothstein kicked off.
As the day progressed and the Bruins scored 45 points, the junior from Brentwood School kept kicking off.
It might not seem like much to a casual fan, but it represents quite a reward for a college student/athlete without a scholarship.
The guy just didn’t give up.
“It tells a lot about his determination,” said Brentwood Coach Patrick Brown. “UCLA had [All-American] Justin Medlock and then the Bruins awarded a scholarship to a kicker from Notre Dame High named Kai Forbath. Now Forbath is kicking extra points and field goals but Jimmy Rothstein won a competition with others to become the kickoff man.”
The outcome of that competition was significant because the NCAA moved kickoffs back five yards this season to the 30, making a strong leg even more important.
But Rothstein hasn’t been given a scholarship because UCLA, like most Division 1 schools, will have only one kicker on scholarship.
Rothstein is 5-11, 165 and a former soccer player. He didn’t begin playing football until his junior year at Brentwood and then handled all the team’s kicking duties.
“I’m really proud of him for what he’s accomplishing,” said Brown. “He’s a fine young man too. He was here last week working with our kickers.”
As a UCLA freshman Rothstein was called into duty in the Sun Bowl game because Medlock was suspended. Rothstein attempted five extra points and made each one.
However, he saw no varsity action last season as a sophomore.
“How many young men from a small school without a scholarship would stick it out after that,” Brown wondered.
After doing that, however, Rothstein appears likely to kick off for UCLA all season, a season in which the Bruins are being strongly considered for a high national ranking.
Evan Paley, who succeeded Rothstein as Brentwood’s kicker, has gone to USC, also without a scholarship and currently isn’t on the football team.
Sophomore Charlie James, Brentwood’s tight end who also plays defense, was the Eagles’ kicker in their opening game 28-0 victory Friday, August 31 over Kilpatrick.
“He has a strong leg but he’s contributing so much more to our team,” said Brown. “And there are only so many hours that an individual can devote to football. “Jimmy was purely a kicker. That was what he did here and he had individual coaches too.”