The Backstory: After a few seasons of discouraging moments in the Sun Devil kicking game, there is renewed hope this season. Freshman Zane Gonzales arrived on campus this fall, and appears to have seized the starting field goal kicking job with ease. Gonzales brings a powerful leg, dead-on accuracy, and so far, a knack for hitting the big kick. Though Gonzales hasn't kicked in an actual game yet, he drilled all eight of his field goal attempts on the rough Camp Tontozona surface in front of more than 5,000 eagerly awaiting fans.
If Gonzales thrives this year, he'll remind long-time Sun Devil fans of another kicker who burst onto the scene his freshman year. In the early 1980s, the emergence of Luis Zendejas gave Arizona State a comfortable feeling about its special teams game, and that's something that few colleges have ever been able to say. So who is the man that Gonzales must live up to? Let's find out.
The Player: Luis Zendejas (1981-1984)
It's hard to deal with the pressure of kicking important field goals as a college athlete, but maybe if you start by nailing big kicks as a freshman, you learn to cope with the circumstances. That theory holds true for Luis Zendejas, who started a brilliant college career with a dynamic freshman season.
In 1982, Zendejas started to mold his Sun Devil legacy under the tutelage of first-year head coach Daryl Rogers. As a freshman, Zendejas earned Second Team All Pac-10 honors, but that was just the beginning of his kicking exploits.
As a sophomore, Zendejas was called upon more frequently and led the Sun Devils in scoring for the second consecutive season. After drilling 16 field goals as a freshman, Zendejas upped his total to 24 field goals and finished with 102 points on the season. The Sun Devils enjoyed a 10-2 record, and won plenty of close games because of Zendejas' accuracy.
His 24 makes obliterated the school record that he set as a freshman, but he still wasn't done torching the record books. As a junior, Zendejas enjoyed one of the greatest seasons ever for an Arizona State kicker, as he hit on 28 of his 37 attempts.
Zendejas' name was called so frequently in 1983 that every outlet regarded him as the best kicker in the country which led to his status as a Consensus All-American. Zendejas joined a list of true Sun Devil legends who have earned that honor, but his prolific kicks meant the specialist was more than deserving of joining that esteemed group.
In 1984, Zendejas made his fourth consecutive All-Conference list, but fell just short of receiving All-American honors for the fourth consecutive season. Regardless, his name lives on in the Arizona State record books and will stay there for a long time.
Zendejas' 380 career points are the most ever by a Sun Devil player, and his 28 field goals from the 1983 season will be a difficult record to surpass. Zendejas made at least one field goal in 15 consecutive games between 1981-1982, and also had at least one point in 45 consecutive games at one point during his career. Perhaps most remarkably, of the 10 longest field goals in Sun Devil history, Zendejas has hit eight of them including a record 55-yarder.
It's hard to imagine any Sun Devil kicker living up to Zendejas' legacy, but if Gonzales comes close, the Sun Devils are in for quite a treat over the next four years.
Terry Battle: Terry Battle enjoyed quite a ride through the Arizona State program, and his 1,077-yard season in 1996 capped off an impressive career that culminated in a Rose Bowl appearance.
Brandon Magee: The heart and soul of the 2012 defense will always be known as the player who helped usher in the Todd Graham era. Magee gave his all on every play, and stands among the most inspirational leaders this program has ever seen.