November 28, 2022

College Football’s 15 best returning place kickers

College Football's 15 best kickers

Tennessee kicker Brent Cimaglia (42) and his teammates leave for the locker room after a 24-20 victory over Missouri Saturday November 23, 2019 at Faurot Field. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

They don’t arrive on campus with star ratings behind their names.

As a matter of fact, most of them usually have to take the walk-on route before being awarded a scholarship. However, the position they play requires them to be the most consistent in the clutch for their teams. Kickers are the players who keeps the games close when their offense is struggling a can also be the X factor when deciding games.

Despite being underappreciated and considered the unsung heroes, kickers have the most responsibility on the team besides the quarterback when called upon. They have to deliver in the rain, wind, snow, glaring sunlight and crowd noise.

These players have all displayed what it takes to be successful at the position and kicking their momentum into 2020.

15. Brian Johnson, Virginia Tech: The Washington D.C. native tied for fifth in the ACC after he converted 19 field goals last season. Johnson is money inside the 40-yard line and has an extremely strong leg. He made all 48 of his extra point attempts. Johnson even converted three field goals apiece against Wake Forest, Virginia and Kentucky. Not to mention he connected on a 54-yarder against the Wildcats, which was a career-high.

14. Cristian Zendejas, Arizona State: Herm Edwards awarded him a scholarship last September and he led the Pac-12 in field goal attempts and field goals made. Zendejas is very reliable inside the 40-yard line, having converted 18 of his 19 attempts. The Arizona native made four field goals apiece in wins over Sacramento State and Florida State. He also nailed thee field goals apiece in victories over Kent State, Oregon and Arizona.

13. Brian Delaney, Virginia: He tied for third in the ACC in field goal attempts and never missed inside the 30-yard line last season. Delaney made three field goals apiece against Pittsburgh and Miami.  Not to mention the Virginia native nailed a 49-yarder in the win over Florida State. Delaney’s 110 points was the third-most in a single season by a Cavalier player. The 5-foot-10, 200-pounder has made 32 field goals over the past two seasons for Virginia.

12. Jonathan Doerer, Notre Dame: The Charlotte native has one of the strongest legs in the FBS and made all 57 of his extra point attempts last season. Doerer converted 20 field goals, including all of his attempts inside the 30-yard line. His 108 points were the most ever in a single season by a Notre Dame kicker. The Golden Domer connected on two long field goals, including one for 51-yards in the win over Iowa State in the Camping World Bowl.

11. Blake Lynch, Kansas State: His 19 field goals ranked third in the Big 12 and he made all of his extra point attempts last season. All of Lynch’s field goal attempts came inside the 50-yard line, but he only missed on two of his 21 tries. The Kansas native converted three field goals in the win over Texas Tech. Not to mention he tied a school record with 15 consecutive field goals made and his longest of the year came from 46 yards out. Lynch has also converted 33 career field goals with the Wildcats.

10. Andre Szmyt, Syracuse: The Illinois native became the first-ever Orange player to win the Lou Groza Award as the nation’s best kicker in 2019. Szmyt made all of his 11 field goal attempts inside the 40 last year and connected on a 50-yarder against Florida State. He also made eight-straight field goals to end the season, including four in the finale win over Wake Forest. Szmyt has made 47 field goals over the last two years with Syracuse and earned third-team All-ACC honors in 2019.

9. Parker White, South Carolina: He made a jaw-dropping, 17 of 18 field goal attempts inside the 50-yard line, including all six beyond 40. White connected on a career-high, 50-yarder against Appalachian State, but missed three other attempts from that range last year. The South Carolina native made three field goals apiece against Alabama and Appalachian State. Not mention the six-foot-five, 200-pounder made all of his 25 extra point attempts last season. White is most known for drilling that 24-yard field goal in second overtime in the upset win over Georgia on the road.

8. Trey Wolff, Texas Tech: He tied for second in the Big 12 with 20 field goals made and connected on all of his 16 attempts inside the 40 last season. Wolff made three field goals apiece against for three-straight games against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Baylor. The Texas native led the Red Raiders with 100 points from his redshirt freshman campaign and was one of the most accurate kickers in the Power Five. Not to mention his 90.9 percentage was the school’s second-best since 2000.

7. Christopher Dunn, NC State: He scored a single season school record when he scored 120 total points for the Wolfpack in 2018. Dunn made 21 field goals last season, including his 22 attempts inside the 50-yard line. Despite missing two field goal attempts from 50 yards and beyond, the North Carolina native still earned second-team All-ACC honors. Not to mention Dunn made all of his 28 extra point attempts. Over the past two seasons with NC State Dunn has converted 44 field goals.

6. Brent Cimaglia, Tennessee: The Nashville native has one of the strongest legs in the SEC and connected on a 51 and 53-yarder last season. Cimaglia made four field goals against BYU and three apiece against Georgia Southern, UAB and Indiana. He tied for second in the SEC in field goal attempts and finished No. 2 in the league in field goals made. The six-foot, 210-pounder has never missed an extra point on 69 attempts and earned second-team All-SEC. Cimaglia will be Jeremy Pruitt’s safety net when the Volunteers can’t find the endzone.

5. Evan McPherson, Florida: The Alabama native finished with the highest field goal percentage in the SEC last season. McPherson also converted on 17 of 19 field goals attempts in 2018, which ranked sixth nationally at that time. He’s one of the most consistent kickers in the league and made 16 of 18 field goals inside the 50. McPherson made three field goals apiece in wins over Missouri and Virginia. The 5-foot-11, 177-pounder connected on a career-high, 50-yarder in the win over Florida State. Not to mention McPherson was a Lou Groza Award semifinalist as a freshman.

4. Peyton Henry, Washington: The California native had a breakout sophomore season last year and improved his accuracy from 73 to 90 percent from 2018. Henry nailed 19 field goals, which ranked third in the league and earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors. He connected on all 49 of his extra point attempts and his 19 field goals ranked third in the conference. Henry made four field goals against California, including a career-long, 49-yarder. The 5-foot-11, 200-pounder even held a streak of 16 made field goals at one point during the season before he missed a 28-yarder at Oregon State.

3. Blake Mazza, Washington State: He’s another kicker from the Pac-12, who improved on his production and accuracy from 2018. Mazza was a Lou Groza Award finalist and earned first-team All-Pac-12 last season. The Texas native missed one of his 21 field goal attempts and had the highest completion percentage in program history. He also finished second in the conference in field goals made. Mazza is a former Arkansas Razorback, who finished third in scoring in the Pac-12 as a redshirt freshman in 2018. Not to mention he connected on his first 18 attempts from last season, which was the longest field goal streak in school history.

2. Nick Sciba, Wake Forest: The South Carolina native holds the school record for 97-straight extra point attempts without a miss. Sciba also holds an NCAA record for 34 consecutive field goals made, which came to an end last season. Still, Sciba made his first 23 attempts of 2019 and earned first-team All-ACC. Not to mention he led the league in field goals made despite having less attempts than two other kickers. The five-foot-nine, 190-pounder scored 119 points last season for the Demon Deacons, which was also a school record. Waker Forest won games against Utah State, Boston College and Florida State by three points or less, so Sciba had to be the difference maker.

1. Keith Duncan, Iowa: Hawkeye fans will argue that he should’ve won the Lou Groza last year for the way he put the team on his back through most of the season. Duncan made four field goals apiece in wins over Iowa State, Purdue and Illinois. He was so clutch in several moments for Iowa, including the game-winning kick on the road at Nebraska, where he blew a kiss at Scott Frost in celebration. The North Carolina native was finally awarded a scholarship after the win over the Huskers. Duncan also made all 32 of his extra point attempts, earned first-team All-Big Ten and was named the league’s Kicker of the Year. Not to mention he tied for first in the FBS with 34 field goal attempts and 29 field goals made.

Honorable Mention

Cade York, LSU: He made 21 field goals last season and tied for second in the league in attempts. York earned Freshman All-America and All-SEC honors for the Bayou Bengals.