STATE COLLEGE — As Penn State’s lone player from Iowa, Nittany Lions’ kicker Jake Pinegar will personally know of a few of his opponents today when Iowa visits Happy Valley.
Pinegar grew up in Ankeny, 115 miles west of Iowa City, home to the state’s flagship university. He attended Ankeny Centennial High, and committed to Penn State in 2018 as the sixth-ranked kicker in that class.
Today’s matchup reunites Pinegar with his Ankeny Centennial teammate Riley Moss, a junior defensive back for the Hawkeyes, as well as some of his former prep opponents.
“I played against a handful of those kids on that team, so I have a couple of friends there,” Pinegar said.
The Nittany Lions’ junior kicker said he didn’t grow up as a Hawkeyes fan. Instead, he preferred cheering for the team in Ames.
“I never really grew up a big Iowa fan,” Pinegar said. “I was more of an Iowa State fan. I had been to Iowa games growing up a few times. Everywhere in Iowa, it’s usually just the Hawkeyes more than Iowa State.”
Through four games this season, Pinegar has connected on four of his seven field-goal attempts. He was 3-of-3 in last week’s loss at Nebraska with kicks of 33, 40 and 27 yards. In last year’s road win at Iowa, Pinegar connected on a 33-yard attempt.
Pinegar has handled Penn State’s place-kicking duties while Jordan Stout kicks off for the Nittany Lions. Last week, Stout snapped a streak of 19 consecutive touchbacks.
“I feel like in games, my kickoff range can go up about 5 more yards than what I usually do in practice,” Stout said.
Pinegar has made 31 field goals in his career and 118 extra points during his three seasons at Penn State. He has a career-long of 49 yards, which he made against Wisconsin in 2018.
Pinegar has gone 2-0 against his home-state Hawkeyes since joining the program in 2018. While the stakes of this year’s contest are raised as Penn State looks to avoid its first-ever 0-5 start, the term friendly competitors applies more than ever for Pinegar.
“I have a lot of people that I know who go there, and a lot of (former) teammates and friends who are players for Iowa,” Pinegar said. “It’ll be a fun week.”