CHARLESTON — Nick Bruno tries not to think about it. Every time the Eastern Illinois University senior kicker is asked to go out and attempt an extra point, he’s just focused on that kick. Not the one that came before it or the 116 he’s attempted total in his career.
Just the kick he’s about to attempt.
It works, too. Bruno has been EIU’s kicker since he was a freshman, and he’s been almost automatic for the Panthers at extra points. For his career, he’s 114-of-116, giving him the fourth-most extra points in EIU history. Cameron Berra, who kicked for EIU from 2010-13, holds the record with 172 extra points made.
Last season, Bruno was a perfect 39-of-39 on extra points. His last miss was on Oct. 3, 2015, against Austin Peay, giving Bruno 64 straight made extra-point attempts. The record is 73 set by Steve Largent from 1992-94.
But Bruno doesn’t think about the streak.
“You know about it, but (thinking about it) is the worst thing you can do,” Bruno said. “I just focus on trying to be 100 percent every game.”
Extra points aren't automatic at the college level, but so far they have been for Bruno throughout his career since he’s only missed two attempts.
“You try not to think about it because the more you know, the more you are going to think about it,” Bruno said. “I try not to think about it and put it through the uprights every time.”
EIU coach Kim Dameron said Bruno has gotten better as a kicker because he works at it.
“He’s a conscientious kid and wants to do well at everything,” Dameron said. “One thing that’s helped this season is having (defensive coordinator) Cary Fowler. It’s been good for him because Cary worked with kickers and punters at other (schools). It’s brought a little bit of fresh ideas for Nick."
Bruno was named to the All-Ohio Valley Conference Newcomer team his freshman season and was a first-team Freshman All-American. He was 44-for-45 on extra points and 14-of-16 on field goals.
As a sophomore, Bruno was 10-of-16 on field goal attempts and was 31-of-32 on extra points. Last season Bruno finished 7-of-13 on field goals and 39-of-39 on extra points.
“He’s had his times he’s struggled, but he’s also had his times where he’s really accurate,” Dameron said. “The thing with Nick is, he just has to continue to make sure he doesn’t hurt himself because he has a tendency to be a little tight. We just try and make sure we keep him healthy and fresh and get him through this season. He can kick it further than I let him. There’s times where he may have to hit one a long way to win a game and I will have confidence in him that he will get it done.”
One thing that's helped Bruno stay consistent is that he's had the same long snapper for his whole career. Senior A.J. Hantak has been his snapper since both were freshmen.
“He never misses and day-in and day-out, there’s nothing better than knowing it’s going to be there when it comes down to me and the holder,” Bruno said. “Snap first, hold second and then it’s time for me to do my job. A.J. is a heck of a snapper. It’s awesome to know it's always going to be there.”
Bruno’s summer routine stays consistent. When he goes back home to Daytona Beach, Florida, he attends 101 Kicking camp.
“The resume they have, it’s something that we work on and it’s all technical work,” Bruno said. “It’s not just kicking field goals, it’s getting in the film room and doing drill work. Just try and get out there and get better.”
It was the founder of 101 Kicking who saw the potential Bruno had as kicker. Bruno played a little soccer before the director of the camp convinced him to go out for football.
“He was one of my teachers in high school and we are a big football school at Mainland,” Bruno said. “He was like ‘Hey have you ever kicked a football?’ I said no and asked if I wanted to try because they needed a better kicker. I went out there and kind of did it and he taught me everything I know.”
With the consecutive extra points record on the table, Bruno's goals are simple for his senior season.
"Go 100 percent, win the conference and go on from there," Bruno said. "I want to make every one that I get."