Living the dream

CLEMSON - Chandler Catanzaro isn't your normal football player.

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CUTigersTV: Chandler Catanzaro

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Normal football players don't show up to Tuesday press conferences at Clemson dressed in slacks and a tie.

Actually, he's a kicker so most people wouldn't classify him as "normal" anyway. And as a walk on, perhaps he's even less normal than just regular kickers.

Still, there's something to be said about a walk-on who doesn't really know if he's going to have a legitimate shot to win a starting position, yet still tries his hardest day in and day out to obtain it.

Then there's something a little more to be said about a guy who actually does it.

For the record, Catanzaro has done it.

Saturday afternoon shortly after 3:30 p.m. he'll get his chance to kick field goals and extra points when it was just a year ago he was buried on the depth chart behind Spencer Benton and Richard Jackson.

"I've just gone in every practice and focused on each kick and it's worked out awesome for me so far," he said. "I just kind of started in the spring because I didn't look at it as a competition as just me doing my best every kick and trusting myself and believing myself.

"It's been a dream come true. My first word was 'ball.' All my life I've loved sports and I always wanted to play a college sport so it's really a dream coming true."

Nicknamed the "Catman" by Dabo Swinney early in preseason camp last season, Catanzaro slowly worked his way up the depth chart until his consistency during the last five weeks was simply too much to ignore.

At one point, Swinney suggested the competition between Catman, Jackson and Benton "wasn't even close."

And now, he's on the cusp of making his first start Catman is feeling the entire range of emotions of what's at stake.

"I'm going to be nervous," he said. "I'll have some butterflies but I don't think you'd be human if you weren't (nervous). I think more of it is just going to be the excitement and the surreal feeling of the atmosphere that's going to be there.

"But I'm just going to out there and try and tune everything out. In practice, I've been in a lot of game-winning kick situations. They try to talk about my mama to make me miss the kick but I've been pleased. I just focus in and tune everything out it works well for me."

Catman says he's comfortable as far away as 53 yards in game conditions, noting he connected from 51 yards (twice) during his high school career at Christ Church.

But it's the consistency throughout spring practice and preseason camp that has truly won him the job.

Saturday afternoon, we'll find out if he can take the first steps towards keeping it.

Chances are, he'll do just that. Top Stories