Kickin’ it with the kickers

Georgia State learned an important lesson in its win against Clark Atlanta: its kicking game is as good as it was last year.

True freshman Christian Benvenuto proved himself a good replacement for  Iain Vance by kicking field goals of 44 and 45 yards in his first game. Benvenuto beat Matt Ehasz, another freshman, for the job during August’s practices. Despite good competition, coach Bill Curry admitted they didn’t know what would happen once one of them tried to kick in a game. However, Benvenuto showed poise, even overcoming a bad snap on one of the field goals.

“It’s just what we’ve been working on,” Benvenuto said.

Benvenuto grew up in Florida playing soccer. He was recruited to try out for the football team on Labor Day of his freshman year at Matanzas High after its kicker missed a few extra points. He played in the last four games, liked it and kept improving.

He has been comfortably hitting field goals up to 47 yards during practice. The hardest part of the transition from high school to college was getting used to a new snapper and holder. He was more nervous on his first kickoff than his first field goal but because the playclock was winding down he didn’t have too much time to think. Neither one of his kicks were “the prettiest balls,” — both barely cleared the bar — but Curry said what’s important is they know Benvenuto can hit them.

“When you know you can make reasonably long field goals that is a difference maker,” Curry said. “It helped us a lot last year once we realized our kicker was reliable. You just don’t know what they will do when they have a chance to win the game.”

Here are three things you may not know about Benvenuto:

1. He’s a first-generation American. “My dad was born and raised in Italy.” He said his dad grew up in southern Italy in Bari. His dad’s favorite soccer team is A.C. Milan. Christian’s is Juventus.

2. He ended up at Georgia State by accident. His dad didn’t send highlight tapes to Curry, but somehow Georgia State ended up with a copy and recruited him.

3. He plays guitar and drums. He plays acoustic, mostly rock. His older brother’s best friend played, so Christian started. “It relaxes me,” he said.

– Doug Roberson, AJC. Follow me on twitter @ajcgsu

17 comments Add your comment

GSUpporter

September 8th, 2011
7:47 am

GStateBen

September 8th, 2011
8:32 am

Accident? I’m glad to have that.

CB33 had a preferred walk on offer from Florida and BCS Champ Auburn. Georgia State offered him a scholarship very early beating out several 2011 opponents for his services. We are thrilled to have him!

Panther Notes – 9.8.11 | Panther Talk

September 8th, 2011
8:45 am

[...] Doug is back at it talking about our impressive kicking game.  Overall, I think our special teams unit is stronger in 2011 than it was in 2010 and that is a big deal. It also catches up Christian Benvenuto and you hear about how he “accidentally” ended up here.  I can assure you it was no accident and CB33 had a preferred walk on offer to Florida and Auburn.  Yes, he’s that good. [...]

itsmeagain

September 8th, 2011
1:44 pm

I actually didn’t realize that a bad snap was what made the kick look so short. Also from my position on the field i didn’t realize how far back the kicks were from. At any rate, i’m glad to have him, and although Ian Vance did an incredible job last season (guy could easily been first string on any BCS team) i feel safe with this new guy.

GSUtimes2

September 8th, 2011
2:19 pm

I believe both were bad snaps on the field goals. He managed very well. Glad to have him. We were all nervous after losing Vance who probably is the reason we were 6-5 and not worse. I can’t wait for Benvenuto to get stronger. Is it out of the question for him to be hitting 50+ yarders or more in a couple years?

PantherCJ

September 8th, 2011
2:57 pm

Bad snaps for 45-46 yarders… Good Snaps? I wonder how strong his leg is.

Good to have you on board Christian! GO PANTHERS!

GStateBen

September 8th, 2011
3:56 pm

CB33 has film in HS of hitting up to 53 yards in practice. Georgia State has a tremendous kicking coach in Ryan Zimmerman and it’s no shock that the 3rd team All American honor for Iain certainly helped recruting great kickers.

CB33, Matt Ehasz and Bo are tremendous weapons. They are True Freshman, True Freshman and RS Sophomore, respectively. The future is very bright!

GSU_2012

September 8th, 2011
6:09 pm

This kid impressed me alot. It will be interesting to see how he performs later down the road

Panama

September 8th, 2011
6:25 pm

Nice to know we are set at kicker for 4 years.

GSUGrad06

September 8th, 2011
9:08 pm

Doug – I love the “Three things you don’t know…” piece you started adding in. Keep it up, this is great for fan/player relations.

[...] new kicking game may have surprised some during the Clark Atlanta game. Here’s a good read on our new kickers, freshman kickers I should say. [...]

Pride

September 9th, 2011
8:36 am

Great job guys keep it up…. Go Panthers

gsu01

September 9th, 2011
9:39 am

Great piece Doug! Thank you!

STATEment

September 9th, 2011
10:04 am

Impressive first outing. Got to keep it up! Go Panthers!

GState

September 9th, 2011
12:08 pm

Itsmeagain

September 9th, 2011
4:40 pm

Yes. You are first

GSU is in Atlanta

September 9th, 2011
9:50 pm

Psyched to have Christian on the team and a solid kicker putting points on the board