The Gators put out a call to the students at the University of Florida with the team’s kicking situation in dire straits. In order to be eligible, students must currently be enrolled with a minimum of 12 credit hours.
Austin Hardin started the season as Florida’s kicker but went 3-6 with all of his field goals coming from between 30-39 yards. He had one kick blocked, and Florida coach Jim McElwain criticized it for being kicked too low. Hardin, a redshirt junior, handled field goals, extra points and kickoffs for the first three games of the season but was held out against Tennessee with a leg injury.
That forced redshirt freshman walk-on Jorge Powell into action. Powell went 2-3 on field goals and hit 10-11 of his extra points. However, Powell was injured while kicking off against LSU on Saturday and was helped off the field. He was spotted on the Florida sideline with ice wrapped around his knee.
It happened to be the first time Hardin dressed since the third game of the season. He was forced into action against LSU and made all four of his extra point attempts, showing his normal leg strength on kickoffs.
If the Powell injury is serious, as the call to students suggests it could be, Hardin should take over full-time duties on kickoffs, field goals and extra points. The issue comes if the leg injury were to hold him back. Hardin and Powell are the only two kickers listed on the Florida roster.
The Gators had a former player reach out about the opportunity on Monday. One of them was Brooks Abbott, who was a member of the Florida team in 2014. He kicked off once in the season opener against Eastern Michigan but that was it. Abbott kicked at The Bolles School and was a U.S. Army All-American Bowl participant as a kicker committed to Virginia Tech. He saw action as a kickoff specialist for the Hokies in 2012. Abbott tweeted that he will try out on Wednesday.