The Cleveland Browns announced that former Arizona State University kicker, Zane Gonzalez, has been awarded the starting kicking position, beating out pro bowl kicker Cody Parkey on Monday, Sept. 1.
Gonzalez was actually an underdog for the job. Head Coach Hue Jackson mentioned that the competition was close, but in the end it was Gonzalez who will be awarded the starting spot.
In an interview with Cleveland.com, Parkey said, “Good competition, Zane is an awesome guy. But at the end of the day, this is my job. I want to win. I'm just going to go out every day and try to compete.”
Gonzalez excelled in preseason completing two field goals outside of fifty yards — an extremely difficult task. His longest being fifty three yards against the Chicago Bears in the final game of preseason. The Browns as a team didn’t disappoint either, going a perfect 4-0, but the momentum was halted by the Pittsburgh Steelers on opening Sunday as the Browns fell 21-18. In spite, Gonzalez was perfect going 1-1 from 24 yards and completing an extra point.
Gonzalez is arguably one of the greatest kickers to ever graduate as a Sun Devil. In 2017, he was named a Lou Groza Award finalist after a stellar senior season. Gonzalez is the all-time FBS career record holder for most field goals with 96.
Other stunning statistics include most points by kicking in a single season, most field goals made in a game, career field goals made, most field goals made my a freshman, most field goals from over 40 yards in a single season and most field goals from over 50 yards in in a single season in the FBS. In his senior season, Gonzalez was 86.7 percent from 40-plus yards and even kicked the longest field goal of the 2016 FBS season; a 59-yarder against Colorado. It was also a Sun Devil record.
Other former Sun Devils had starts to their professional careers this month, notably Christian Westerman who signed a $2.571M contract with the Cincinnati Bengals in May of 2017, according to cin.247.sports.com. Unfortunately, the Bengals took a devastating loss to the Ravens, 20-0 on opening Sunday.
In all, it was an excellent start to the season for Zane Gonzalez, and Christian Westerman will look to make his mark in the league coming off his hefty contract. Both should have a successful 2017 season.