Baker Mayfield and Austin Seibert began working together one fine day against the Akron Zips. Four field goals at Tampa make it appear they will be spending 2019 together.

BEREA Austin Seibert was minding his own business in an interview off to the side in the Browns' fieldhouse.

Someone walked by and said, "It's all in the hips," making Seibert smile.

The writer had his back to the passerby.

"It was Baker," Seibert said.

Oh? What did young Mr. Mayfield mean by "It's all in the hips?"

"It's a quote from Happy Gilmore," Seibert said.

The movie starred Adam Sandler in the title role and featured Carl Weathers as an ex-tour golfer whose hand got chomped off by a crocodile.

Happy was learning how to golf. His instructor, Chubbs, did a humorous dance near a lakeside green to demonstrate the importance of hips.

Life on Lake Erie is more complicated than that for Seibert, the rookie draft pick trying to become the Browns' placekicker. Yet, Seibert appreciates the simplicity of reducing a million hours of preparation to one simple task.

"At the end of the day," he said, "you're kicking a ball."

Seibert found his happy place Friday night at Tampa Bay, making all four of his field goal tries. One was from 54 yards, his longest make ever in a game.

Happy Gilmore turned pro even as he was taking up golf. Seibert is a bit more experienced. He was one of only two placekickers drafted in April, taken shortly after Tampa Bay picked Matt Gay.

"I work hard and trust what I do," Seibert said. "I've been doing this since I was 7 years old. And I enjoy doing it."

Mayfield, the No. 1 pick of the 2018 draft, and Seibert, the 170th pick this year, began working together in 2015.

Mayfield was a 20-year-old transfer from Texas Tech making his first start for Oklahoma. Seibert was an 18-year-old freshman. The opponent was Akron.

The Zips were on their way to a nice year. They would go 8-4 after the Oklahoma game. They were no match for the Sooners.

Seibert put his team ahead to stay, 3-0, with a 35-yard field goal, and finished off the scoring with a 41-yarder that made it 41-3. In between, Mayfield threw for 388 yards and four touchdowns.

They went on to win a lot together. They never stopped horsing around to keep things light. Along the way, Seibert says he grew up.

As Mayfield walked away from the recent interview, Seibert morphed into his approach to chip shots and the grand scheme.

"In the kicking game," he said, "you're going to have good weeks and bad weeks. Sometimes it's hard not to get down on yourself if you have a bad week.

"You try to get out of the bad weeks as fast as possible. Sometimes it takes longer than others.

"Stay positive. Use your resources. Surround yourself with people who will help you get better.

"For me personally, faith is big in my life. I study the Bible quite frequently. I was baptized about two years ago. It helps me immensely. It helps me when I'm out there. You keep things in perspective. We're all going to die, and we're going somewhere.

"Right now, football is what I want to do, and I love doing it. My chips are all pushed in.

"There are bigger and more important things in life than football. I'm engaged. My fiancee is one of the reasons I got into reading scripture and getting baptized. It's just been a blessing."

Seibert has found Browns camp to be a rich experience. His hotel roommate during training camp has been Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi, the little longshot who returned a punt for a touchdown in the preseason opener.

"It's a tremendous mix of people," he said, "from guys who are celebrities to guys just busting their tails to get on the team."

Seibert is not in Mayfield's universe on the celebrity front, but he has been good at what he does for quite a while.

He grew up in Belleville, Ill., just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis. Coming out of high school, one recruiting service ranked him as the No. 1 punter in the USA; another had him as the No. 1 placekicker.

He left Oklahoma as the Big-12's career scoring leader with 499 points.

By Aug. 31, when the Browns' roster must be trimmed to 53, Seibert will know whether he has beaten out incumbent Greg Joseph.

"Greg and I are fine," Seibert said. "We hold conversations. We're not enemies. We're here competing for one thing. Everyone knows that.

"Stay calm, cool, collected. Whoever's the best is going to get that spot."

One imagines Seibert lining up for the 54-yard field goal, hearing advice from Chubbs in Mayfield's voice:

"Just tap it in. Give it a little tappy. Tap Tap Taparoo.”

 

Reach Steve at 330-580-8347 or steve.doerschuk@cantonrep.com

On Twitter: @sdoerschukREP