Josiah Yazdani draws on religion to motivate him in games. 

Against Miami last season, Ohio kicker Josiah Yazdani said he was on the sidelines after a previously missed kick, contemplating his faith and self-esteem.

He said God answered him.

“I was sitting there and I was like, ‘God, I don’t even know if I want to kick anymore. This season has been so rough on me. I’m so low mentally. I have such little confidence in myself. I don’t know if I ever want to go out there and kick again, and it’s just been so hard,’ ” Yazdani said.

Yazdani was called up for a 28-yard field goal to clinch the win against the Bobcats’ conference rival. The ball left his foot, and Yazdani's faith was restored.

“The ball went right through the uprights, so I’ve known in my life, in my heart, (God) is truly real,” Yazdani said.

Yazdani, a redshirt senior, said he has been devout in his Christian faith since a young age. Raised in Albany, he said he turned to faith after the divorce of his parents and the absence of his father growing up.

“I’ve always been raised in a Christian home," he said. "My mom, she’s a believer, she loves the Lord, and she instilled that at a young age.

“She home schooled us until I was in the seventh grade, so we were always brought up with Bible study in the morning. She always instilled the love of God in my life. … When I was growing up and things would go wrong, she would say, ‘Turn to the Lord because he’s going to be there for you no matter what — no matter how bad times look or what trials you go through.' ”

The game at Miami was not the first time Yazdani had questioned his faith. He tore his ACL while playing soccer at Alexander High School in Albany.

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"When I hurt my knee, I blamed (God)," Yazdani said. "It seems like every time something bad happens, I blame (God) first and not myself. But I pointed my finger at him and said, ‘Why’d you do this?’ And my mom was right there saying, ‘This isn’t God. God allows things to happen in our lives to shape us and bring us back to him.' ”

He said his mother is the best thing that’s ever happened to him. Yazdani still has no relationship with his father.

“Any time you lose a parent, or they split, there’s definitely a time where you question yourself like, ‘Was this my fault? Was there something I did wrong?’ ” Yazdani said. “And that was a time in my life where God truly showed up.”

Yazdani recovered from the ACL tear and was kicking and playing high school sports within four months.

Yet, when he played for the Bobcats as a redshirt sophomore, Yazdani said he again questioned his faith while standing on the sidelines against Austin Peay in September 2013.  

Yazdani suffered another ACL tear the year before and felt he should’ve been the starting kicker for the Bobcats going into the season.

But on Sept. 21, 2013 during the game, he said his relationship with God was reassured.

Yazdani hit a 47-yard field goal in a 38-0 win against Austin Peay — his first field goal as a Bobcat — and went on to set Ohio’s single-season record for field goal percentage (93.3 percent) that same year.

For Brian Haines, special teams coordinator, Yazdani is “a good kid.”

"He works his butt off,” Haines said. “He’s overcome a lot in his career. He got hurt here and, prior to that, he got hurt in high school, so he’s had two knee operations and missed a year here because of it. Where he is now speaks volumes of his hard work.”

Wide receiver Brendan Cope said Yazdani prays in the locker room after games, regardless of the outcome, and leads prayers in the middle of the field with the team.

Yazdani said he shares his relationship with God with others because he believes “everyone goes through a time in their life when God is going to reach out to them” and they have the option to accept.

“Josiah, I’d say, he’s a true man to his faith," safety Kylan Nelson said. "He’s a realistic person. … He says he’s a believer in everything he does and represents. He’s always positive when you come into the locker room. I won’t even say something to him sometimes, I’ll be on my way, and I just hear, ‘Hey Kylan, how’s your day going?' ’’


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