THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Lucas Havrisik is a Riverside native, but he hadn't truly been home in six years.
That all changed this week, when the Rams signed the kicker off the Cleveland Browns' practice squad.
"It feels great," Havrisik said after Wednesday's practice. "California is beautiful. Great weather. Came from Cleveland, obviously. But it was kind of weird flying in. I haven't been in California in like six years. Like, I don't really come back, I was in Arizona. So I was like, 'Man, this is nice!' So it's definitely nice."
The homecoming represents a big milestone, in that it's the former University of Arizona standout's first opportunity on a 53-man roster.
He went undrafted last year, tried out for the Indianapolis Colts during their rookie minicamp in May 2022, then was signed to Indianapolis' practice squad to compete for their starting job that went to Chase McLaughlin. Released from the Colts' practice squad six days later, he eventually signed a Reserve/Future contract with them in January 2023, spent the entire offseason with Indianapolis, then was waived during final roster cuts on Aug. 27. He was then signed to the Browns' practice squad on Aug. 30.
"I'm very, very thankful," Havrisik said. "I'd just like to thank Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. He has guided my way along the way. The process of a kicker is very different, but it's been great. Every time I had a workout my rookie year, first year coming out last year, I was super thankful. All you can do is control what you can control, so those workouts I did my best and hoped for the best. It's a matter of time with things opening up in the right spot. Just kept working, and, yeah, turned out well."
In Indianapolis, Havrisik had a supportive specialist group which of course included former Rams kicker Matt Gay.
"Yeah, he's great," Havrisik said. "Great kicker, obviously. We were in Indy for the offseason, but he's such a good dude. That whole group was a special group, so learning from them in general was just great."
According to Rams head coach Sean McVay, feedback from Gay played a big role in Los Angeles bringing on Havrisik, as well as the feedback from special teams coordinator Chase Blackburn and assistant special teams coach Jeremy Springer. McVay said there's a lot of trust in both Blackburn and Springer, who spend a lot of time studying the landscape of the league and having conversations with specialists, who are a "close-knit fraternity."
Springer is also very familiar with Havrisik, having coached him in three of Havrisik's five seasons at Arizona.
"A lot of the potential, a lot of the talent in terms of, when you talk about as a quarterback, the ball jumping off of a guy's hand and being able to throw a consistent spiral, change in trajectories, this is the same thing that you talk about," McVay said, when asked what they liked about Havrisik that led to signing him. "Consistent ball flight, immediate height, consistency with the approach, and a lot of the things that you like when you go back to his career at Arizona. They had liked him in Cleveland. Matt Gay's feedback was something that weighed into it as well, based on him being around him in Indianapolis."
Collectively, it has brought him back to Los Angeles. His family – which still lives in Riverside – knows that the process of a kicker is very different, and knows Havrisik's journey well. When they found out he was signing with the Rams, he said they were "super excited."
"It's weird as a kicker, the process of getting in," Havrisik said. "I explained this to them last year, just the process and what it might look like, ad finally we got here. So they're very happy."
McVay confirmed the Rams worked out some kickers as additional possibilities, so it remains to be see exactly who Maher's replacement will be – "we'll bring him in here and see how he does," McVay said.
But as Havrisik said earlier, all he can do is control what he can control. This is his next opportunity to do that.