It was announced on Sunday afternoon that kicker Michael Santamaria will be handling field goals and point after attempts for Virginia Tech's season opener against William & Mary this Saturday, August 30th. Santamaria, a left-footed kicker, is a true freshman from Athens Academy in Athens, Ga. In addition to Santamaria, the two other names that seem to be cropping up the most frequently are Joey Slye and Carson Wise, both also true freshmen and walk-ons. Throughout camp, the competition seemed to come down to Slye and Santamaria. Each kicker has a big, booming leg that can get plenty of height and distance. However, due to the fact that Santamaria was brought on with a scholarship, it makes sense that he has managed to come out on top to start the season.
If you recall, Virginia Tech's starting kicker from last season, Cody Journell, was dismissed from the team on November 13th, 2013 for violation of team policies. Eric Kristensen was the kicker that replaced him for the remaining two regular season games, going 3/4 in the process. He was replaced by Michael Branthover for the Sun Bowl against UCLA. Journell was also on scholarship, which is a rarity for kickers. So that should speak volumes about Santamaria.
Sophomore Mitchell Ludwig will be handling kickoffs this weekend. Santamaria is not listed on the depth chart for kickoffs but Slye is. And how does Wise play in to all of this? When talking about the kicking battle today, Frank Beamer commented that, while Samtamaria has won the spot, Wise is hot on his trail. Each of them hit 44 yard field goals on Friday. Most comments about Slye seem to imply that he would be used specifically for long field goal attempts.
#Hokies coach Frank Beamer on Michael Santamaria winning K job: "Carson Wise is right there. Slye, I think he would be the long FG kicker."— Mike Barber (@RTD_MikeBarber) August 25, 2014
There seem to be several worthy candidates to handle the kicking job for the Hokies. Will Santamaria be able to keep the number one spot? He'll have the opportunity to state his case on Saturday.