Meeting UM's New Field Goal Kicker

Hard work pays off. Francesco Zampogna, the newly anointed place kicker for the Miami Hurricanes, is a testament to that. Read on to find out what Zampogna was telling CanesTime.com after Thursday's practice.

This Saturday, Francesco Zampogna – a sixth year senior that filed for a medical redshirt in late March for the 2007 season - will make his first career start as the team's place kicker against Marshall. He has attempted a total of two extra point attempts in his five year collegiate career, making both, but the pressure is on for the 23-year old.

"Pressure comes with (the job)," Zampogna said. "You just have to prepare for it mentally and deal with it when it comes."

He had been a hotly contested position battle against fellow kicker Daren Daly throughout most of fall campHe hasn't had a field goal attempt in a game situation since 2001 - his senior year at Naples High School .

As his former high school's team captain and three year letterman in football and soccer he went 4-for-7 on field goal attempts and 76 out of 80 in extra point tries during his career including a 3-for-3 effort on extra points versus Tampa Central in the 5A Florida state championship game. That was the last in-game action he'd see kicking through the uprights until the 2006 season, where he would get two opportunities to kick extra points spelling former Hurricanes' kicker Jon Peattie – he made both kicks.

Notwithstanding his lack of big game experience at the collegiate level, Zampogna remains confident in his ability to make clutch kicks for the Hurricanes and feels his experience during practice under Head Coach Randy Shannon has put him in a position to succeed on the field.

"The main thing you have to do is make the pressure kicks," Zampogna said. "(The coaching staff tries and put you in different situations. Shannon will throw you around in hurry-up field goals and scrimmage kicks. If you capitalize on those that is what is going to get you the job done."

Despite never having to endure the roar of a crowd in the final minutes of a game, he remains cool to idea of having to make one of those kicks.

"You just have to prepare for it mentally and deal with it when it comes," he said.

Zampogna was recruited to Miami for his ability to kick off. However, his collegiate career started out injury riddled. An injury to his left wrist as a freshman in 2002 and a herniated/bulging disc in his back in 2003 hampered him from competing against Peattie for the starting kicking job. By the time his 2004 season, his first season healthy enough to play, Peattie had solidified himself as the teams place kicker.

"Once Peattie solidified himself his freshman year, he had some ups and downs but he stayed consistent enough to keep his job," Zampogna recalls of his early career with Miami .

With the graduation of Peattie and a new coaching staff, Zampogna was given the chance he has waited five years for, the chance to kick field goals for the University of Miami Hurricanes.

"With (Coach) Shannon , he is the type of guy who he will play who he feels will give him the best chance to win. That is the first thing he said to me after I received the redshirt, and he kept to his word."


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