When the Bengals signed UDFA Tom Obarski, they got a guy who broke all sorts of records at Concordia University, St. Paul. Those records included a school, Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference and division II record for longest field goal (59, vs Augustana) as well as field goals made (44) and career points for a kicker (250).
And though he went to a small school, as he says, when you play kicker, the goal is to kick the football between the goal posts, and you can standout while doing that no matter what school you go to. Obarski is looking forward to competing with Mike Nugent and getting to be a part of the Bengals organization. Read on for our Q&A with the Bengals' new kicker.
RT: What do you think about being one of the newest Cincinnati Bengals?
OT: It is an awesome feeling. The first time I said I’m a Bengal was awesome. It’s been cool though thinking about it and what the summer is going to entail and the opportunity and it’s really exciting.
RT: Who called you to let you know you would be joining the team?
OT: I got a call from Darrin Simmons the special teams coordinator. He called after the draft and we talked about me being a part of the team and a Bengal and it was an awesome call to get.
RT: Who were you with?
OT: I was at my parents house with my wife, parents, grandparents, siblings and some family friends so it was a cool time.
RT: You had visited the Bengals a few weeks before the draft. What was that like?
OT: My visit was awesome. It was cool to see the facilities, meet some of the coaches and meet some of the other guys who they were bringing in and share with them the excitement. Being in Paul Brown Stadium was cool. Getting to see all the facilities and be in that moment was really cool.
RT: Was there anyone else there on your visit who also has since been signed with the team?
OT: Yeah. I spoke to Jake [Kumerow] from Wisconsin-Whitewater. We spoke about what it all meant and what we were feeling, so it was cool to see his name on the signing list as well.
RT: Less than an hour after the draft you already had Bengals gear. How did that happen? Were you in Cincinnati?
TO: That was kind of funny seeing some of the reactions on Twitter. Actually, it was some stuff I had gotten on the visit to take the physical and do medical things with. So I thought it would be a good picture to put up.
RT: What were your draft expectations? Were you disappointed?
TO: I was hoping to see my name during draft time but I was also excited just to have the opportunity to go somewhere. And I thought if the draft didn't happen, I would be getting some calls as well. Though it would've been a cool feeling to get the call during the draft, I was definitely excited to get the call after as well.
RT: What was the draft weekend like for you?
TO: I think a mix of nervous and excited. It seems like the whole next few months and hopefully longer than that is all riding on draft weekend. As you go through the process it becomes more nerve racking and exciting so it was kind of a mixture of all that wrapped into one.
RT: Coming from a small school, did you anticipate at the start of college that you could make it to the NFL? Or was it a dream of yours?
TO: It was definitely more on the dream side for me, just to come in to Concordia and knowing it’s a small division II school in the Minnesota tundra. But I knew if I worked hard and did what I hoped I could do then the opportunity would be there and present itself. And I tried to take all those opportunities to the best of my ability and let them play out as it well.
RT: Do you think it gives you a disadvantage coming from a small school -- Concordia University, St. Paul.
OT: I think there’s pros and cons coming from a small school. But luckily, at my position it’s about putting it between the goal post and the translates wherever you are. Coming from a small school, I was blessed to get out there and play in the Senior Bowl and my agent really got my name out there. So coming from a small school, I played the underdog and I think it played out in my favor. I was able to focus on my craft and the kicking aspect and worry about all that later.
RT: What do you think about competing with Mike Nugent for a chance at a spot on the 53-man roster?
OT: I think we both bring some different things to the table. As a rookie, I hope to go in there and give him some competition and see where that leads. But he’s also been in this position plenty of times before and he’s been able to work through it and prove he’s an amazing kicker. I think going into training camp an the pre-season will be a good competition and we’ll see where that leads. But it’ll be a good time.
RT: Were there any other teams who tried to sign you or showed interest before the draft?
OT: There were a couple teams I was talking to and had workouts with. But taking the visit to Cincinnati and seeing all the facilities, I was extremely excited to hear back from the Bengals.
RT: Tell me about your college days. Any highlights you'd like to share?
OT: I was blessed to be able to kick for all four years, coming in freshman year and remain healthy for all four years. I created an opportunity for a lot of kicks and a lot of long kicks as well. At Concordia a lot of people know me for my long field goals. I set a record-long 59-yard field goal and a couple 56-yard field goals. And just being able to have the strength for distance and pairing that together in my senior season with the consistency of making it all around the field as well. Just one of the highlights of my senior year was the long kicks and my coach having the trust in me to go out there and execute at the long range.
RT: What's your workout regimen like?
OT: I’m kicking two to three times per week, just trying to stay in shape that way and make sure that the leg is still working. Other than that, staying in the weight room and playing soccer. I grew up playing soccer and I know that’s led me to where I am today and I never want to forget that. I played soccer, football and hockey in high school at Apple Valley High School in Minnesota.
RT: What made the Bengals a team you wanted to sign with?
OT: After meeting with Coach Simmons and talking to him for the first time and seeing the work that he’s been able to put out on the field with special teams, the precision and great ability that he’s been able to translate what he knows onto the field on Sundays. Also the character of the Bengals, they have a really great group of guys who go out there on Sundays. And obviously they made the playoffs the last four years so I think they are a really great team to get involved with.
RT: Have you spoken to any of your new teammates yet?
OT: Not yet, it’ll be an exciting weekend getting to know all the rookies and then getting involved with the rest of the team as well.
RT: What are your expectations for the next few weeks/months?
OT: Over the next few months I just hope to create opportunity for myself and keep training and kicking and all that hard work is going to lead to good things. Going into training camp I’m hoping for an opportunity to meet the players and meet a great group of guys and have an opportunity on the field and see what God's plan is for my life and I know things are going to be straight and good.