Life after OSU for former football kickers Justin Kahut and Alexis Serna

Josh Worden Senior Beat Reporter

— Justin Kahut: Football kicker, 2006-2010

At OSU: When Kahut finished his career in 2010, his 47 field goals trailed only his predecessor Alexis Serna in OSU history. Kahut hit game-winning field goals against Arizona in 2008 and UNLV in 2009, and he scored the only points in OSU’s 3-0 win in the 2008 Sun Bowl.

Now: Kahut is engaged to be married in July; he and his fiancé Julie initially met on

Within two months of signing up for the online dating service, Kahut thought it was “a joke” and decided to cancel his subscription. He forgot to do so, however, and it renewed automatically. A month later, Julie messaged him and the two Skyped multiple times over the next two weeks. Kahut flew down to Sacramento to see her — Julie lives in Phoenix but was visiting her grandmother — but they did not mesh well on their first face-to-face meeting.

“I think her grandma and I hit it off more than her and I the first day,” Kahut said. “Luckily it was a full weekend, so we got to know each other. Both us were just like, ‘Hey, we both know what we’re looking for, let’s be intentional about this thing.”

Kahut was already headed to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl on Jan. 31, so he surprised Julie by bringing her with him four days early and he proposed on O’ahu’s north shore.

“Our dates have been really expensive, because we fly to each other.”

As for his career, Kahut had already locked up a job with the engineering company Kiewit when he was a junior at OSU. He worked there for a time before moving to Nike, where he has worked in product development since Jan. 2014.

“It’s been awesome,” the 27-year-old said, who now works with former OSU wide receiver Mike Hass in Portland. “A lot of skills I learned in my engineering job and classes (at OSU) translated well to the development role.”

Speaking of OSU connections: Kahut and Serna, who together held a monopoly on OSU’s starting kicker job for the majority of 2004-2010, are very close friends today and Kahut is the godfather of Serna’s son Sebastian.

“Pretty cool since before I came to OSU I was Serna’s number one fan,” Kahut said.

Kahut spends in time in Portland working at Nike, coaching high school kickers in the Portland area and volunteering at YoungLife’s Capernaum program, which hosts activities for people with disabilities. Kahut is also the kicking coach at Lewis & Clark College under former OSU coach Jay Locey.

— Alexis Serna: Football kicker, 2003-2007

At OSU: Serna went from missing three extra points in his first career start in an overtime 22-21 loss at No. 4 LSU to becoming the best kicker in the NCAA a year later. Serna arrived at OSU as a walk-on, endured the LSU debacle in 2004 and was benched after the loss. He reclaimed the starting spot two weeks later and earned a scholarship at the end of the year. After the LSU game, Serna never missed another PAT in his career, making an OSU record 144 consecutive extra points. The following year, in 2005, he won the Lou Groza Award as the NCAA’s best kicker. Serna’s 80 career field goals still stands as the most in OSU history.

Now: Serna spent almost three seasons in the Canadian Football League after leaving OSU. In 2010 while in Canada, Serna married his girlfriend of six years, Julia Garcia; the two originally met as students at OSU when Garcia was an RA in Serna’s dorm.

Serna was released in Aug. 2010 by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, so he returned to Corvallis and went through a six-month training process with the Corvallis Police Department. He was hired on the condition that he passed a psychology test. For reasons he never learned, Serna failed the test.

“That was kind’ve an ‘oh crap’ moment for me,” Serna said, who learned he failed on his 27th birthday. “One of the fortunate things for me was (then-head coach Mike) Riley. One of his big things was: ’never blink.’ Basically, just saying that you never know what’s going to happen but you can’t worry about it.”

Despite having no professional experience outside of football, Serna kept his head on straight as he looked for career options. Soon, he landed a job at Sherwin-Williams and joined their management training program. A couple promotions later, he now works as a sales representative in Salem. Recalling the leadership and mentoring from coach Riley, Serna implements similar styles of guidance in his position with clients and coworkers.

“That’s kind of a neat thing for me because I really love to mentor people and really like to help out as much as I can,” Serna said.

Alexis and Julie also have one child, Sebastian, aged two and a half and already a budding OSU fan. Serna’s successor as OSU’s kicker, Justin Kahut, is Sebastian’s godfather.

“(Sebastian) is an absolute Beaver nut,” Serna said. “He can recite the entire OSU fight song already. If you say ‘Go Ducks’ around him, his mouth drops open and he says, ‘Oh, you said a bad word.’ So we already trained him well.”

Serna Fun Fact:

Alexis Serna, who won the 2005 Lou Groza Award for being the nation’s best kicker, didn’t know what the Lou Groza Award was until he was in college. He learned about the award by playing the video game “NCAA Football 2004,” in which he created himself as OSU’s kicker and won the award while playing as his virtual self.

“(The game said) ‘Alexis Serna won the Lou Groza Award.’ I was like, ‘What’s that?’” Serna said. “I did a little research on it and found out what it was.”

In 2005, Serna won the award — in real life, this time — while making 23 field goals including a school record 6-for-6 performance versus Washington.