By: Nick de la Torre
In part two of our spring position battles series we will take a look at who will replace Florida’s all time points leader, Caleb Sturgis. Florida fans have been spoiled the past four years with Sturgis as their placekicker. Sturgis leaves Florida with the most field goals in school history and was about as automatic as a college placekicker can be.
Kickers and punters are often overlooked on a football team. While the offense and defense grind out practice after practice of full-contact hitting under the hot Florida sun, the specialists can be found in the shade sipping tropical drinks in lounge chairs. Ok, that’s not exactly what kickers and punters do at practice but you get the idea.
While a college placekicker is not typically the most impressive looking player on the field or the star of a team, consider their importance on the outcome of a game. In 2012 alone, 117 games were decided by three points or less. Just ask Brent Pease what Boise State could have done if they didn’t miss field goals against Nevada in 2010 or against TCU in 2011.
Brad Phillips, SR
In three seasons at the University of Florida, Phillips has handled kickoff duties and been the primary placekicker in two games.
Phillips attempted one field goal last season, a miss against Missouri that gave the Tigers a chance to tie the game late in the fourth quarter.
Austin Hardin, R-Fr
Hardin was a member of the 2012 recruiting class but took a redshirt last season. He was an Under Armor All-American as a senior in high school and was ranked as the No. 1 overall kicker in the class by ESPN.
As a senior in high school Hardin connected on 13-of-20 field goal attempts with all seven missed field goals coming from at least 50-yards out.
This is really Hardin’s job to lose. Hardin was recruited in 2011-12 to replace Caleb Sturgis. The plan was always to have him take a redshirt his first season on campus and then take over the kicking duties in 2013. It would take a Hardin cold streak and an outstanding performance from Phillips during spring practice to change that.