He played soccer until his junior year at Indiana's Valparaiso High. School rules prohibited kids from playing both soccer and football, so Ficken ultimately switched to football.
He made a 52-yard kick as a high school senior and arrived at Penn State in 2011.
He probably won't tweet about the second game.
Ficken had a bright future at Penn State. It just wasn't supposed to start this year.
Fera, the player who left for Texas, was the first Penn State kicker since 1975 to be the team's starter for field goals, kickoffs and punts.
Ficken will blame himself for missing four field goals and an extra point against Virginia, but there were accessories. It was disturbing to watch, especially when you considered the circumstances that led to the unfolding of this kicking catastrophe.
His teammates, forged by a common bond, did not turn against Ficken.
"We just told him to keep his head up," senior cornerback Stephon Morris said after the game. "We're all going through the same thing. Nobody said anything negative to him. It's not his fault, you can't blame one person."
This is not the end of it, of course. Penn State hasn't even started a Big Ten season that might lead to more televised humiliations.
Injuries and defeat will pile up as the Nittany Lions face the head winds of slashed scholarships.
The NCAA maintains it had to do something dramatic to punish Penn State for the sins and crimes perpetrated by grown men.
Predictably, the real pain will be shouldered by kid kickers and third-string tailbacks who came to Penn State only to do it proud.
"Sam is our kicker," O'Brien said. "We need to see what things we can do to help Sam get better."
What else could he say?