SE: Cantele Switches Sports, Schools
Aug. 31, 2012
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That was at Wichita’s Kapaun Mt. Carmel High School and then at Missouri State.
Today at Kansas State, Cantele is tattooing a brown, oblong ball with his kicks accounting for as many as three points.
“I was much better in soccer when I was in high school,” said Cantele, who was the 2008 Kansas State Soccer Player of the Year. “Football was something I just did for fun in the fall but without any training.”
Maybe just for fun and without training, but he was also pretty darn good. Cantele was true on 20-of-23 field goals, plus 145-of-147 extra points in high school. Those were good enough numbers be to named to Wichita’s all-city team four times, all-state unit three times and selected to the Kansas Shrine Bowl.
Cantele first went to Missouri State for soccer, but in his words, “It wasn’t meant to be. Nothing about it worked out for me. I had mono the first day I arrived, had a foot injury and then re-injured it. It just wasn’t a good experience. All the signs pointed to stopping and maybe starting over someplace else.”
With tapes sent out to K-State, Kansas and Miami, the Wildcats offered Cantele the opportunity to walk-on, which he accepted.
“I had so much to learn,” said Cantele. “In high school, I just went through the motions. The only teaching I got was watching NFL kickers on TV, but I didn’t have any true instruction until I got here.”
After sitting out the 2009 season, Cantele’s high in 2010 was running a fake field goal for a touchdown against none other than Missouri State.
Last year as a junior, he hit 17-of-23 field goals, bulls-eyed 48-of-49 extra points, plus he had 14 touchbacks on kickoffs when he averaged 62.2 yards.
The 5-foot-10, 181-pounder toed three field goals in games against Kent State, Baylor and Iowa State, plus nailed a 31-yarder for the game-winning points against Baylor when he earned Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week.
Cantele’s longest make of the year was of 54 yards against Oklahoma, which was the eighth-longest in K-State history.
While it’s hard to improve too much at this stage, Cantele says, “It depends on the wind, but I’m capable of a 65-yarder. When I first got here it would have been only about 53 yards. Coach has seen me make them I practice, so I hope there’s an opportunity for him to send me out there for a long one.”
The K-State record is 65 yards by Martin Gramatica against Northern Illinois in 1998, which still remains as the longest kick in college football history without using a tee.
Heading into his senior season, Cantele, whose brother Jack is a redshirt freshman kicker at K-State, is less than thrilled with the new rules that kickers will face in 2012 in which kickoffs will be made from the 35-yard line instead of the 30, and touchbacks will be brought out to the 25-yard line instead of the 20.
And, there is a new rule where on onside kicks in which the receiving player will be protected from any contact on a kick that bounds high into the air.
Laughing, Cantele said, “It is hard to say I’m too excited about them. The onside kick rule really bothers me because I’ve spent years trying to perfect it, and now they’ve changed the rules. Now kickers are having to go back to almost the elementary-type kick where you’re hoping for a lot of luck and for the ball to bounce high on the second or third bounce on the turf. You can do it, but you can’t do it consistently.”
STADIUM REMINDER: Minor inconveniences will greet fans attending home games this season due to the $75-million construction of the West Stadium Center.
Fans are asked to utilize the entrance gates nearest their seating location that will give them a direct path to their seats on the west side of the stadium: