Jason Giannini Hopes to Win Starting Spot

Jason Giannini, a 5-foot-9, 185-pound sophomore kicker from Canton (OH) GlenOak, had the high and lows in his first competitive year of college football. Giannini lost his starting job to walk-on Joel Monroe in the Music City Bowl. GoldenSports.Net recently caught up with Giannini to learn about his expectations for the season.

Jason Giannini scored 75 points on 13 field goals and 36 extra points as a redshirt freshman. Giannini has worked hard in the offseason with the hopes of regaining his starting spot for Minnesota. He hit the game-winning 30-yard field goal with one second remaining to secure Gophers' first win against Michigan in 19 years. He was named Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance at Michigan. However, he struggled with his extra points, missing three versus Colorado State and two against Florida Atlantic and Indiana.

Obviously, kicking is such a mental thing. How tough was it to overcome last year and get ready for this year?

"I think that was the major thing last year. I had the physical ability, but I just was not ready mentally and that's what I worked on a lot this offseason. Definitely, try to get a little more headstrong in a way. I got over that real quick. Everything is just focusing on this season. I know I can do it. I just have to go out there and put it all together."

You have the leg and the accuracy. Was it frustrating, knowing that you can do it but it just was not happening?

"There is no doubt in my mind that I should have had a better season last year, but mentally, it wears you down a little bit. It just happens sometimes. A lot of people have kind of a rocky first start and just come back and don't stop. Keep working hard and it will come."
What are your expectations for this year? A lot of people think that you might be even more important because of no Maroney and no Russell, that you might have to kick some field goals that will be important. Is that the way you are looking at it or is it hard to tell?

"Hard to tell. We have a great team. We always have great running backs. We have a great quarterback. Great wide receivers. This is a great team, so who knows how that will all play out. But, I have high expectations this season. I expect to perform at the best of my ability and there is no doubt in my mind that I will perform this year."

They have a freshman kicker, Eric Ellstad, coming in and Joel Monroe back. Is that something you feed off, having that competition and knowing that you have to earn it?

"Yeah. It is great for competition. I've never seen Eric kick, but I know that Joel is hitting the ball pretty good. It drives you to work harder. During the offseason, you are always thinking, 'I hope that I'm outworking the other guy,' but then you look at him and he is working to out-work you. It is good, because you are both working, pushing yourself and pushing the other guy."

What types of things did you do in the offseason. Did you go to any kicking camps?

"I was involved in a football camp in Wisconsin. That helped out a lot. There were some other good kickers there. I think I did very well there. I think that mentally that sent me way above. Where I am at right now is way above where I was last year at this time. I actually went into the season saying, 'Can I do this? Can I actually go out there in front of all these people and hit that ball?' This year, I know that I can. It is just a matter of doing it."

Was it good to be around other kickers, so you can talk about things or is that something you keep to yourself?

"That was the funny thing. I got a chance to talk to a kicker from Iowa State, Texas and Pitt. It was kind of fun to talk to those guys and before their kicks, knowing what they are thinking and it was actually the same stuff that I'm thinking. It was good that I got to talk to other guys who are very good kickers. It really helped me mentally and physically."

Does that help knowing that they have the same doubts that you might have?

"I'm not the only one nervous out there to start the game. It is good to know that everyone is nervous, but who can perform when they are nervous is what's important."

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