He isn’t the most famous athlete from Chico, California, and no number of field goals would change that for Aldrick Rosas. No, there’s no way he’ll ever be as well known as Chico’s favorite son, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
But Rosas speaks proudly about the north central California town where he grew up and developed the skills and leg strength to earn the chance at making the Giants’ roster.
“Born in the same hospital as Aaron Rodgers,” Rosas said. “Also went to Butte Community College, where he went” before playing at Cal-Berkeley. “Chico is a great place to grow up. Just beautiful.”
Like Rodgers, who wasn’t recruited out of high school, Rosas has taken an unconventional path to the NFL. But he did the opposite of Rodgers. After suffering a torn ACL in the final game of his sophomore year at Southern Oregon, Rosas came back home, even though he couldn’t play for the junior college because he’d already used up two years of his NCAA eligibility.
Rosas might have stayed at Southern Oregon if not for topographical concerns. After getting hurt near the end of Southern Oregon’s first NAIA championship game in 2014, Rosas couldn’t navigate the hilly campus.
“Southern Oregon is based off a mountain range into a valley, and when I tore my ACL, all my classes were uphill,” he said. “I was using crutches everywhere, I had to miss a lot of classes, and it was really expensive, so I moved back to Butte College. Since I had already done my two years of eligibility, they said I could hang out with the team and practice a bit, but I couldn’t be affiliated, so that’s how I spent that whole year .”
Rosas thought his dreams of making it to the NFL were ruined when he hurt his knee.
“When it happened, I thought it was a huge step backwards,” said Rosas, who was injured making a tackle on a kickoff. “I felt I was really on a straight path to getting to the NFL, but I took a huge hit. It took me a whole year to get back and get my confidence back and get my knee to where I wanted it to be and get back to the mentality that my knee is good.”
Rosas signed as a free agent with the Titans last year and kicked in training camp before being beaten out by Ryan Succop. But he learned valuable lessons from Titans special-teams coach Steve Hoffman.
“I remember my first two weeks there, I didn’t even see the goalposts,” he said. “The first week, I was just kicking air, the second week I was kicking down the line every day, just working on my swing. We changed my whole walk-off, my whole stance, how my extremities swing, my steps, my chest, my breathing. It was fun to see how much detail that goes into kicking a ball.”
The technique has paid off handsomely. Through three preseason games this year, Rosas has made all four field-goal attempts, including from 54 and 47 yards, and two PATs. He’s locked in a fierce competition with recently signed Mike Nugent, who hasn’t missed any of his five field-goal tries. It could come down to Thursday night’s preseason finale in New England — a meaningless game for many players, but perhaps a make-or-break scenario for the 22-year-old Rosas.
“I’ve been taking it week by week, but now that the last week is here, I want to go out and finish it strong,” he said. “I look forward to any opportunities that come up in the game, any type of situation I haven’t really simulated in practice to be thrown my way, just to get better and build more confidence with the team, to be the guy.”
Former Giants punter Jeff Feagles, an analyst on Giants radio broadcasts, believes Rosas has “a generational leg” in terms of power and strength.
“A talent like this doesn’t come around very often,” Feagles said. “Aside from his physical skills, you look at his mental skills. They can get better. If he puts it all together, he could be your kicker for the next 10 years.”
When told of Feagles’ “generational leg” comment, Rosas’ eyes widened.
“To hear that, that’s awesome, especially from Jeff Feagles,” Rosas said. “I look up to him a lot, and I always ask him questions. I’ve grown up with my leg, so I’ve never been able to gauge it, but I’ve always thought I’ve had a strong leg.”
Now all he needs is the chance to use it when the games count. He may be only one step away from getting it.