Barth Back Booting

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Despite being left off the preseason Lou Groza Award watch list, senior placekicker Casey Barth is back in good health and ready to force the voters to add him to the group.

"I can't wait," Barth told reporters earlier this week. "I haven't played in a game since September, so it's like a dream come true for me to play since it's been so long."

The Wilmington, N.C. native was granted a medical hardship waiver last fall due to a lingering groin injury, but claimed on Saturday that he's "definitely as good" as he was prior to the strain.

"Lou [Hernandez], our strength coach, has done a great job of helping me get stronger," Barth said. "I've put on some weight, so I think I'll definitely be stronger this year than I was."

North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora confirmed on Thursday that Barth hasn't had any problems with his leg thus far in training camp.

"He feels good, he feels strong," Fedora said. "We're making sure that we're really monitoring how many kicks he gets. We want to make sure that he doesn't get fatigued because that's easy to do during camp when you're going every day because when you start working kickoffs, that takes a lot out of your leg."

If that last sentence piqued your interest, then you're not alone. Barth's lack of distance on kickoffs throughout his career has made for a revolving door at that spot, but his added strength, as well as summer workouts with his brother Connor, has helped to boost his distance.

Fedora indicated that Barth booted "three or four" kickoffs into the end zone on Thursday.

Barth earned second-team All-ACC honors in 2009 and honorable mention in 2010. For his career, he has made 51-of-63 field goals and 116-of-117 extra points, including a school record 82 straight PATs.

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