K-State’s Matthew McCrane set to kick off next phase of his career

Kansas State place kicker Matthew McCrane attempts a kick during the first half of a Sept. 2 matchup against Central Arkansas in Manhattan. (SEPTEMBER 2017 FILE PHOTOGRAPH/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

PHOENIX – For the past four years, the place kicking duties on Kansas State’s football team have almost been an afterthought.

 

Not that it didn’t matter, for few programs place a higher emphasis on the kicking game and special teams than K-State coach Bill Snyder. It’s just that with Matthew McCrane handling the job, field goals, extra points and kickoffs were nearly automatic and no cause for concern.

As McCrane concludes his career when the Wildcats play UCLA in the Cactus Bowl on Tuesday at Chase Field (8 p.m., ESPN), he departs with numerous schools records:

— Career field goals made: 57.

— Career field-goal percentage: 86 percent.

— Career extra-point percentage: 99.2 percent.

— Career 50-plus-yard field goals: 5.

— Season 50-plus-yard field goals: 3.

— Season extra-point percentage: 100 percent.

He’s also No. 2 in career field goals attempted (66) and career points by a kicker (299), earning first team All-Big 12 honors this year on the conference coaches and Associated Press teams.

“It’s bittersweet, for sure,” McCrane said of his final game as a Wildcat. “Being under coach (Bill) Snyder has been absolutely phenomenal. He’s been tough at times, but it’s been a great career. It’s been fun with all the guys, and that’s what I’m going to miss most is being with the guys on the team.

“I won’t miss the tough workouts in the summer and all through the season. It was tough, but it made me what I am today. I’m excited to move on to the next point in my life.”

The next point begins with the East-West Shrine Game on Jan. 20, 2018, in St. Petersburg, Fla.

“I didn’t get the invite to the Senior Bowl, but I really wanted the East-West Shrine game,” McCrane said. “They promote the Children’s Burn Center for Shriner’s Hospital and the meaning behind this game is very important to me. My dad is a Shriner and my granddad is a Shriner, and I’m a Mason. I’m excited for it.”

McCrane will be joined at the all-star game by K-State long snapper Drew Scott.

“He’s consistent,” McCrane said. “I don’t think he’s had a failed snap in the four years he’s played.”

McCrane is hoping for an invitation to the NFL Combine, which could enhance his chances of being drafted.

K-State has had at least one player selected in the NFL Draft in 23 consecutive years, and McCrane could be the best bet to continue that streak. Other possible draft picks include Topekan defensive tackle Will Geary and, if they declare for early entry, cornerback D.J. Reed and wide receiver Byron Pringle.

“The NFL has struggled a lot this year with kickers,” McCrane said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if four, five or maybe six kickers got drafted in the late rounds. Hopefully, I’m one of those, but it’s hard to say.”

McCrane’s departure will leave an opening in K-State’s long tradition of outstanding kickers, as will the loss of Nick Walsh, a four-year mainstay at punter.

“We have some good guys coming up,” McCrane said. “Nick McLellan had a good performance in the spring game with three field goals. We have Jake Roark for kickoffs, and he does a phenomenal job, and we have Blake Lynch, too, so they will all compete at the kicker position. We have Bernard Rodriguez for a punter and Devin Anctil, as well. I don’t think any of the positions are solidified, but it will be interesting to see how it shakes out.”


Contact Ken Corbitt at (785) 295-1123 or @KenCorbitt on Twitter.


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