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Returning Player Refresher: Andrew Gantz

Employing one of the best kickers in the AAC isn’t something to ignore.

NCAA Football: Cincinnati at East Carolina James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

When the Cincinnati Bearcats fell behind 10-0 to the East Carolina Pirates last season, following a 10-yard touchdown pass from Blake Kemp to Davon Grayson, it appeared they were headed for another disappointing day set up by falling behind early.

Thanks to Andrew Gantz, that didn’t happen. The then sophomore kicker booted a 50-yard field goal near the end of the third quarter to give Cincinnati a 16-10 lead and, when all eyes were on him on the final play, his 42-yard field goal attempt was on target, sending the Bearcats to a 19-16 victory.

Having a kicker which such a consistent leg and approach, as well as one that doesn’t fold in big spots, is a real luxury. Its one UC will get to enjoy again this season as Gantz, a Lou Groza Award contender, takes his rightful place on the depth chart.

The Dayton, Ohio-native ranked sixth in the American Athletic Conference in scoring last season (112 points), connecting on 21-of-27 field goal attempts and 49-of-50 extra points. His 21 field goals trailed only Memphis’ Jake Elliot (23) and Temple’s Austin Jones (23) for the most in the league. He also knocked down a pair of kicks from 50 or more yards and went 11-for-12 on attempts from 30 to 49 yards.

Such a stellar season earned Gantz second-team all-conference honors and was an improvement on his freshman season. In that campaign, Gantz made 16-of-20 field goals with a season-long of 47 yards.

While kickers are largely ignored except for when things go wrong (or oh so right), UC is lucky to have a kicker it can rely on to deliver more of those oh so right moments.