Our featured player today in the Kickoff Countdown is a very interesting guy for a couple of reasons. He is a local guy and a high school football state champion. If you think I'm talking about the West Lafayette HS 2009 3A State Football Champions, then you are right.
Sam McCartney had a great high school career as a Kicker right in Purdue's backyard, but he has come to Purdue Football with new challenges. One of them will be a much-watched battle as he competes with other Purdue Kickers for the right to a now vacant starting Kicker spot.
Sam McCartney - Fr. (RS)
Hometown: West Lafayette, IN (West Lafayette HS)
6'4", 183 pounds
2011 Projection: Reserve at Kicker
McCartney is a local guy who kicked field goals for a few years over at West Lafayette High School. He made 69 extra points and 2 field goals in 2009 en route to West Lafayette's 3A State Championship. Following his successful high school career, Sam joined the football team last year as a walk-on and was redshirted. He also made the Dean's List as an Accounting major, so we can already tell he has the smarts to succeed at football on a higher level.
This year, Purdue moves on after losing long time ace Kicker and part time Wizard Carson Wiggs. Filling his shoes will be very difficult. We've have all seen or at least heard of these legendary long field he hit over the past. So, even though Wiggs was a Kicker, the 2012 Boilers are faced with much stress to try and replace and replicate his rare talent that was such an asset in the last few seasons.
The way that Coach Hope might solve this problem is a bit unorthodox, but could be very successful. And unfortunately for McCartney, he may or may not fit the bill. #43 is facing very stiff competition this year in earning the right to call himself the successor of Carson Wiggs.
Purdue currently sports multiple kickers with different talents that can be utilized in different scenarios. On top of McCartney, they include junior Robert Harris, a 2009 walk-on kicker from Tennessee, and freshman recruits Paul Griggs and Thomas Meadows. Griggs is a three star prospect from North Carolina and Meadows is a two star prospect from Virginia.
So while a two or three Kicker system may be what Hope ends up creating come this fall--where one guy might do field goals, another extra points and even another kickoffs--a few things are certain at this time. Purdue isn't big enough to sport four Kickers. OK, it might be, but unfortunately cuts will be made. Whether we see Coach Hope carry one, two or even three Kickers, four seems a bit much. Also, there will certainly be a very intense and rare competition at Kicker this year. And finally, Sam McCartney clearly has his work cut out for him, along with these other guys, as he works to earn the right to call himself Purdue starting Kicker and successor to Carson Wiggs.
You can find Sam McCartney on Twitter and follow him at @samjmccartney.
Edit: I didn't include him above, but Robert Ullrich makes five kickers on our roster. Ullrich is a freshman walk-on from Lawrence Central in Indy. my apologies to Mr. Ullrich and his affiliates for forgetting about him.