FSU’s Roberto Aguayo on pace to be best kicker in college history
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — There were countless treks into the woods, hours spent on golf courses and the every-morning ritual of hearing his father call him "Champ."
It all helped make Roberto Aguayo arguably the best kicker in college football.
Aguayo isn’t perfect, but he’s close. He has taken 201 kicks in his first two Florida State seasons and made 197 of them. He’s on pace to become the most accurate kicker in the history of big-time college football and it would seem a high draft pick would await him next year if — as widely expected — he skips his senior season and heads to the NFL.
"He’s good because he’s talented, but he’s great because he has a tremendous work ethic," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. "He’s a perfectionist. Our kids say that. The confidence, when he walks on the field, our kids jump up, `How far is he kicking this one?’ They know what’s coming."
All those wide rights and wide lefts — kicks that doomed Florida State against Miami so many times and probably helped decide a couple of national championships — aren’t a concern in Tallahassee these days.
Aguayo has made all 149 of his point-after attempts and 48 of his 52 field-goal tries. His 98 percent success rate so far on all kicks would put him ahead of the 96.7-percent clip that Nebraska’s Alex Henery posted on his way to setting the major-college career record from 2007 through 2010. His 92 percent make rate on field goals is also ahead of Henery’s career mark in college of nearly 90 percent.
" I know one day, whether it be five years, 10 years, 30 years, someone’s going to come and break the records I hold," Aguayo said. "I’m going to try to come out being the best, and obviously that’s what I wake up to and expect from myself every day."
That’s what Roberto Aguayo Sr. started instilling in him years ago.
It was the elder Aguayo who greeted his namesake every morning with "Good morning, Champ." He built a soccer goal in the yard for his sons to practice kicking. It’s an `H’ shaped structure, with football goal posts rising into the air.
"We played soccer and in the spring we kicked field goals," the younger Roberto Aguayo said. "He had a net at one point but he could only hang it up to the top of the upright post, but we’d kick it over."
So when he would kick 35-yard field goals — hey, the family yard is only so big — Aguayo’s reward was a hike into the woods to retrieve the ball, so the process could be repeated over and over again.
He didn’t miss often there, either.
"I see his confidence and his process and I just take some of it," Seminoles holder Cason Beatty said. "Having him back there, I know it’s going to be a great ball. He doesn’t have many mishits. And when he does, it’s usually my fault."
Aguayo and Beatty are just about inseparable, everywhere from the practice field to the golf course. Aguayo — who likens the mechanics of the golf swing to the mechanics of kicking — says he’s a 14 handicap. Beatty knows better than to believe that claim.
"Little generous," Beatty said. "He’s a good golfer."
Aguayo seems to have stayed grounded. He’s quick to give Beatty and snapper Stephen Gabbard plenty of credit for his success, the highlights of which so far include two first-team AP All-America nods and the 2013 Lou Groza Award presented to the nation’s best kicker. It surprised many that he wasn’t the pick there again last year, and it probably would be a surprise if he doesn’t win it this year.
"Coach Fisher once told me the great demise of good players is they get bored," Aguayo said. "With what I’ve done, I could easily fall, just because I get bored, just because I do it every day. … Everyone out there thinks I’m the best, but I have flaws that any of you all might not know. I wake up every day to fix those things."
He insists that no decision has been made about entering next year’s draft and skipping his senior season.
Either way, there likely will be an Aguayo kicking for the Seminoles again in 2016 and probably for a few years after that. His younger brother Ricky is verbally committed to attend Florida State.
"I told him, wherever you go, doesn’t matter if you go to Florida State or wherever else, you’re going to have the name Aguayo on your back and you’re always going to have the high expectations," Roberto Aguayo said. "We’ve always been a family that’s had high expectations and we want the challenge. He’s up for the challenge."