Hetland Lets His Foot Do The Talking

At 6-0 and 185 pounds, he isn't the most imposing football player for the Florida Gators nor is he the most vocal. He would rather let his foot do all the talking for him, which is what he did Saturday night when his three second half field goals were the winning margin against Tennessee.

The Leesburg (GA) Lee County High School graduate is a junior at Florida and as a walk-on to the football team he pays his own way, which means out of state tuition. Saturday night he might have earned a little bit of relief for his parents who pay his bills.

"I know I am putting my parents through heck for having to pay out of state tuition," Hetland said. "Hopefully it will pay off … actually it has paid off. It's a dream come true and my parents are just as happy as I am."

This was the biggest game and the biggest kicks of his entire life. There was only one way for Hetland to express how he felt about his contributions to the Gators victory over rival Tennessee.

"Big time," he exclaimed. "I am excited I got the opportunity to come through for the team. Never any doubt. I had lots of butterflies but lots of excitement, too. I am so excited to be out there. It's an opportunity of a lifetime for me. I am from north Georgia … my dad went to school here and grew up a Florida Gator and I just always wanted to do it."

Hetland has confidence which is the number one priority for a kicker. He was very happy Saturday when Coach Urban Meyer showed confidence in him to get the job done.

"I am glad I made my extra point this week," he said jokingly. "I've been doing well in practice. Coach stuck with me and didn't pull me, because I think we have missed three extra points. That gives me a lot of confidence in itself. As a kicker you can't have any doubt, of course the nerves come in there."

Hetland's field goals got more important as the game went on and it was evident it was going to be a defensive struggle. Hetland said it started to sink in late in the game just how important his kicking was on the night.

"(The last one) put us up over seven or eight points ahead," he said. "It was a good feeling It was only a 20-yarder though, I was a little nervous out there."

It hasn't been overly difficult. With a routine swing with his leg on the ball, he knows the ball will go through the uprights.

"I am just doing my job," he said. "My snapper and holder are money every time. I know the ball is going to be there and when you know that the confidence will be there."

The special teams were maligned for the first two weeks with missed kicks and busted coverages. Saturday night the defense and the special teams were special and produced what may end up being a monumental win for the Gators.

"It was a big game and we came out and did what we all knew what we could do," he said. "We got our jobs done and came out with a W."

The Gators go on the road next week to face a reeling Kentucky team. Hetland has never kicked in a college game outside the confines of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and Florida Field. He brushes that off as just another task to handle when the time comes.

"I haven't had to kick on the road yet," he said. "I just have to go out there and do my job."

Coach Meyer hinted Saturday night that Hetland may get a scholarship if he remains the Gators field goal kicker. When pressed on the issue, Meyer said, "Our field goal kicker should not have to pay his own way." Things are definitely looking up for the Gators, Chris Hetland and his parents.

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