Hey, if Georgia can go the No. 3 route at the most important position on the field, Florida can go the medical school route at one of the, well, not-so-important positions — unless you need them late in a tight game, of course.
Earlier this month, the UF football program put out a walk-on call for students interested in becoming a place-kicker for the Gators. The need for the unusual midseason development arose after starter Jorge Powell went down with what turned out to be a season-ending knee injury, leaving his backup, Austin Hardin, as the only kicker on the roster.
Nearly 220 people responded to the call for kickers, and, heading into the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, there’s one left standing: pre-dental student Neil MacInnes. MacInnes was informed Friday that he has been placed on the travel roster and will make the trip to Jacksonville for Saturday’s game against Georgia.
“It’s pretty much a dream come true,” MacInnes said told UF’s official website. “I wanted to kick in high school and obviously being part of this organization, and Gator Nation, is kind of cool.”
MacInnes, a former soccer standout at his Tampa high school, first played football as a junior and hasn’t kicked competitively since Dec. of 2011 at a high school all-star game. His friends urged him to attend the tryout and, well, the rest is history.
“My mindset going into it was, ‘if I was in high school, and they were recruiting me right now, do any of these other guys have the potential to do it? Would they have had the potential to do it in high school?'” MacInnes said of the initial kicking cattle-call, adding, “I felt like I did.”
Interestingly, one of the 215 other people he beat out for the spot was former Virginia Tech kicker Brooks Abbott. Abbott played in seven games for Tech in 2012, serving as the Hokies kickoff specialist in those contests. After leaving Tech following that season and spending 2013 at a Florida JUCO, Abbott joined the Gators and played in the 2014 opener. That was his one and appearance at UF.