Dental student to serve as Florida’s backup kicker


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.

Former Navy coach Niumatalolo joins UCLA staff

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LOS ANGELES – Former Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo is joining UCLA’s coaching staff as director of leadership.

The school said in an announcement Friday that Niumatalolo will serve as an advisor to the Bruins’ football staff and players.

Niumatalolo led Navy for 15 years and was the winningest coach in school history at 109-83. The Midshipmen, however, finished with losing records the past three seasons, including 4-8 the past two.

Navy played in 10 bowl games under Niumatalolo. He also was the only coach to win his first eight games in the storied Army-Navy rivalry.

Troy, Jon Sumrall agree to new 4-year contract through 2026

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TROY, Ala. ⁠— Jon Sumrall agreed to a new four-year contract as Troy’s coach after leading the Trojans to a Sun Belt Conference championship and national ranking in his debut season.

The school announced the deal, which runs through 2026, but didn’t release details.

The Trojans went 12-2 and won their final 11 games, second only to national champion Georgia, including the league championship game and the Cure Bowl against UTSA. For the first time, they finished a season ranked, ending up 19th in The Associated Press Top 25.

“When we appointed Coach Sumrall in December 2021, we challenged him to return Troy football to the top of the Sun Belt Conference,” Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr. said. “It didn’t take long, as the 2022 season was the best in our FBS history.”

Troy held all 14 of its opponents to under their season average in scoring, beating UTSA 18-12. The Trojans beat Coastal Carolina 45-26 in the Sun Belt title game.

“Last year was an amazing accomplishment for everyone associated with Troy football and was the product of relentless effort from our players and staff, athletic administration and university leaders,” Sumrall said.