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