Belleville West grad Austin Seibert breaks NCAA records at Oklahoma
Shane O’Brien wasn’t about to let Austin Seibert know it then.
But when he had Seibert write down the goals he wanted to work toward, O’Brien started questioning Seibert’s sanity a bit.
It was in 2014, shortly after the graduate of Belleville West committed to Oklahoma, when he scribbled three goals on a sheet of paper.
1. Start as a freshman
2. Win the Lou Groza Award as college football’s best kicker
3. Become the all-time leading scorer in Sooners’ history
“I had several kids do it and a lot of it was manageable, normal goals, and then Austin wants to be the leading scorer all-time at Oklahoma,” O’Brien, who helped train Seibert, said this week. “Part of my thought process was to scratch my head and wonder if this kid was crazy or to wonder if this kid was just absolutely special in every way.”
He quickly learned that it was the latter.
Sometime soon, barring something catastrophic, Seibert will accomplish No. 3 on that list when he passes Michael Hunnicutt to become the Sooners’ all-time leading scorer.
Against Kansas State Oct. 27, Seibert scored a career-high 15 points with three field goals and six extra points.
Seibert enters Saturday’s game against Oklahoma State just four points behind Hunnicutt.
“That has been in the back of my head, I guess to feed the hunger to be hungry for something and leave my name here and have it on the record books is something that I’d really like to have,” Seibert said. “It’ll be a very special moment when it happens.”
Seibert also accomplished the first of those three goals, starting at both place-kicker and punter as a freshman. Since his sophomore year, he’s also handled kickoff duties.
“To be able to do all three is, it’s rare,” Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said. “Somebody compared it the other day to being able to swing a golf club right- and left-handed. They’re so different and they’re different challenges and trying to improve at all three and be as good as he’s been in all three, it’s remarkable.”
Seibert met O’Brien when the two both worked out at Firehouse Gym in Belleville.
Eventually, O’Brien took over the gym from Jim Stiebel after Stiebel took a head coaching job at Mater Dei. O’Brien soon followed Stiebel to serve as an assistant coach before returning to the area several years later.
When he returned, O’Brien quickly started working with Seibert — and his younger brother Logan, who this year set the record at Belleville West for PATs in a season — again in a makeshift gym in his Columbia, Illinois, basement.
That’s where he had Seibert write down those goals.
“When I would train people, I would train them to the point that they puked, and that’s how I knew I was successful,” O’Brien said. “Neither one of those kids would ever puke. They would just keep going and going and going like the Energizer Bunny. It didn’t matter how hard I pushed them.”