If a kicker on the football team were given a nickname it would start with something like “The Leg” or “Sir-shanks-a-lot” and end with something tough-sounding like “Moose.”
It just so happens that a kicker on this year’s BYU football team goes by the name “Moose.” Standing at an imposing 5 feet 7 inches and weighing a terrifying 175 pounds, Vance “Moose” Bingham is one of the kickers battling for the starting job this season.
How does a person get a nickname like Moose? Simple: from his mother.
“I was actually a huge baby,” Bingham said. “I was 10 pounds when I was born, so I got it at birth. My mom was just like, ‘This child is a moose.'”
Bingham, a sophomore from Draper, has had to deal with expectations from his nickname his whole life. Growing up he played offensive and defensive line, but things changed when he got to high school.
“I got to Alta (High School), and everyone was like 6 feet 5 inches across the board, so I was like, ‘Well, not doing this anymore.'” Bingham said, “I gotta find something else that is more fun.”
Because of injuries growing up, Bingham wasn’t able to play football until middle school, so soccer became his sport of choice. The only problem was that once he kicked the ball he had to keep running after it; with football someone else did the running. After attending a football camp at BYU he decided to make the position change and become a kicker.
For Bingham, football isn’t the only passion. He loves spending time with family and friends. He enjoys boating and any other adventures that are out there. The youngest of three children, he loves spending time with his older brother and sister and their families.
While serving in the Orlando, Florida mission he picked up a passion for playing the ukulele, and he enjoys playing any song by Taylor Swift. Thanks to a less-than-motivated companion and the influence of the Polynesian areas he served in he quickly learned the ukulele.
Bingham has taken those outside interests and combine them with a positive attitude to become a model teammate.
“Moose has a great attitude every day; he shows up with a smile always,” said Paul Tidwell, BYU inside linebacker coach. “Moose integrates with all the players so well; he does not segregate himself because he is a kicker. Everyone loves Moose because he has such a fun-loving spirit about him.”
Moose doesn’t just try to get by on personality alone; he has a strong work ethic and loves competing.
“He has a great personality. Everybody loves Moose,” said Kelly Poppinga, BYU special teams coordinator. “He is very confident and loves to compete.”
Originally committed to play at the University of Utah, Bingham saw that he wasn’t going to get the playing opportunities he had hoped for, so he decided to transfer. Because he grew up in a house full of Cougar fans, his family was happy when he chose to transfer to BYU even though his father had sold his football season tickets the week before.
His teammates believe his positive attitude and desire to be the best give him the right combination to be a kicker.
“I think he has a perfect personality to be a kicker,” said Chris Badger, BYU defensive back. “There will be times in practice and I will see him standing on the sideline, and I know we have a competition coming up. I’ll ask him if he is nervous, and he just pauses for a second and then smiles and says, ‘Nope.’ He has the personality where nothing really fazes him.”
Bingham is competing to be the starting field goal kicker this season and has worked hard to be in that position. Even though he is in the midst of a competition for a starting position he still takes time to become a leader.
“I would say Moose has grown most as a leader among the specialists (punters, kickers, holders and snappers) and among his teammates,” Tidwell said. “His focus to be our starting kicker has helped him improve his determination. I expect him to compete right down to game week or until we name our starter. I know he will compete.”
A leader is someone whom teammates can trust on and off the field. Bingham has worked hard and tried to earn that trust.
“Moose is the kind of guy that if I got stuck somewhere at three in the morning and I needed to call someone, I would call him,” Badger said.
Gaining the trust of his teammates comes from being vocal in practice and sharing a genuine interest in what others are doing. Successful teams play as one, and Bingham is one of the players who works to bring the team together.
Football players come in many shapes and sizes and have all manner of nicknames. Bingham has set out to show that kickers contribute more than just kicking.