Kicking competition begins with Gonzalez out

During a third quarter kickoff at The Big House last Saturday, kicker Diego Gonzalez saw his senior season come to an abrupt end.

The returner started going across the field and once I started sprinting, I thought someone was trying to step on the back of my heel or maybe someone had fallen down on it. I looked back and there was nobody there,” Gonzalez said, recapping the injury.

I immediately thought, 'This can't be good,'” he continued. “I just hopped off the field and the doctors told me I had a torn Achilles, which I do. I was really excited about this season since it was my last year but now I am just going to try to stay positive.”

Gonzalez was three-for-three on his field goal attempts to begin the year before missing a 36-yard attempt from the left hash against Michigan. He had been doing a good job of booting his kickoffs before suffering the season-ending injury.

Junior Chris Graham and true freshman Davis Price will compete in practice throughout the week to determine who will handle place kicking and kickoff duties going forward.

We'll decide on that Friday,” Buffs head coach Mike MacIntyre said. “If one of them dominates in both areas [they will handle both duties], but if one is good in one area, we can switch it up. We are going to see how the contest goes this week.”

Graham missed his only field-goal attempt in game action so far earlier this month, a 40-yard attempt in the fourth quarter against Idaho State. He served as the Buffs' kickoff specialist in 2015 but only sent 17 of his 58 kickoffs deep enough for a touchback.

I definitely worked a ton in the off-season on staying more upright, allowing my hips to get through the ball more and get more distance on it,” Graham said. “I didn't feel like I had a great year kicking off last year. I thought I could have hit more touchbacks. We'll see how it goes this year. I feel much better and more confident in my kickoffs and field-goals.”

[Diego] is one of my best friends here. I hang out with him every day, every minute. We talk about every kick,” he added. “He is still going to be around, which is super nice, but I am sorry to have his season end like that. But I am definitely excited for my opportunity.”

Price joined the team as a preferred walk-on this summer after earning first-team all-state honors at Evergreen High School last year. He sent 87 percent of his kickoffs deep enough for a touchback and was 12-of-17 on field-goals during his final prep season.

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