This is the first of our Bye Week Awards for the Arizona State football team. They’re essentially midseason awards, as our staff has named recipients for several awards. Up first? Our Bye Week MVP Award.
The Arizona State Sun Devils aren’t able to say they’ve experienced much consistency on the field this season, but the one area they have is in the kicking game, courtesy of senior kicker Zane Gonzalez.
The right-footed Texan’s noted dependability is why he’s been selected as our 2016 Midseason MVP Award winner.
It’s been documented how long the journey to reach ASU was for Gonzalez. Years after having to wait “a month or so” following what would have been his signing day before receiving an offer from the Sun Devils, he stands as their program leader in numerous kicking and scoring categories.
Gonzalez has scored in every game he’s played, presently 48 straight. The streak breaks former ASU kicker Luis Zendejas’ previous school-high mark of 45.
He’s the highest-scoring player in Sun Devil history too, with a current total of 477 points.
After breaking the Pac-12 career field goals made record (previously held by UCLA kicker Kai Forbath - 85) earlier this year, Gonzalez broke the NCAA record when he made his 89th during the Sun Devils’ win over the UCLA Bruins in October. It broke former Florida State kicker Dustin Hopkins’ record of 88, which was set in 2012. In fact, his three field goals that evening proved to be the difference in ASU’s 23-20 win.
Gonzalez also broke the record for most 50-yard field goals made in a single game when he connected on kicks from 51, 50, and 59 against the Colorado Buffaloes.
To call Gonzalez automatic may ought to be considered an underselling of his efforts.
Nationally, Gonzalez ranks third in the country in field-goal percentage (95.2), having made 20 of 21 total attempts this season. He’s even connected on 6 of 7 kicks from 50 yards or more out, including the 59-yarder against Colorado—the longest recorded conversion in the entire country this season, and the longest in ASU history.
Through nine games this year, Gonzalez has booted 48 of 64 kickoffs out of the end zone for touchbacks. The 75-percent touchback-rate is the same rate at which he recorded touchbacks a season ago—a mark of his consistency.
His ability to keep opponents quiet in the special teams phase has been crucial to the Sun Devils’ victory efforts this year. Likewise, his notable effort when asked to split the uprights is the key reason he’s our bye-week MVP.
Other Players Considered (listed in no particular order): Koron Crump, JoJo Wicker, Demario Richard, Marcus Ball, Kalen Ballage, N’Keal Harry, Tim White, Manny Wilkins