Wooten earns trust of coach, teammates

South Carolina has managed to scrape by for the last two weeks, winning both games by only a field goal. The Gamecocks could have potentially gone into overtime or loss if it had not been for Jay Wooten's right foot.

"A couple games a year are won or lost on field goals," South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier said.

Wooten transferred from the University of North Carolina in hopes of eventually filling the position of Spencer Lanning when Lanning graduated. Little did he know, that the first two kicks of his Gamecock career would eventually be the difference in those games.

Wooten is only three games into the season, but has excited South Carolina fans already putting their faith in him as a solid kicker like Lanning and former South Carolina kicker Ryan Succop, who is now the starter for the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs.

"It's an honor to be mentioned in the same sentence with those guys. The offensive line has been great all year. I've had great protection," Wooten says.

Wooten won the support of Gamecock fans when he kicked long field goals that ended up being what kept the Gamecocks ahead in the last two games.

Wooten kicked a 49-yard field goal against Georgia in the fourth quarter and then another 48-yarder against Navy to end the first half.

Neither of these kicks were an easy task, especially with a lot of pressure being on the kicker, but Wooten has proved he is up for the challenge.

"Anytime it's a 48- or 49-yarder, as a coach it's a bonus if he makes it," Spurrier said. "If he doesn't, well you gave it a shot and you move on. Jay (Wooten) has made two in a row. He's 2-for- 2. That was the difference in both games. He's a very valuable player for us without a doubt, Jay Wooten. If it's a field goal opportunity you usually give the guy a shot."

Wooten says he knew he was capable of making those field goals and he feels like any kicker on the team could have done it.

There's no doubt the Gamecocks have some great legs on the team, but it says something about Wooten to the coaches, the fans, and the players, when he is able to produce in a tight spot.

"I just try and treat every kick exactly the same. You can't add more pressure than there already is. It's just one of those things where I try and stay focused and prepare if possible," said Wooten. "Like a good golf shot, you know from the moment you hit it, you know if it's going to be good or you pulled it or cut it or whatever. It's kind of similar like that."

Junior boundary safety DeVonte Holloman says the team definitely has faith in Wooten's performance.

"We've watch Jay kick all preseason, all camp and all summer," Holloman says. "We trust in him. He's made some really good kicks and got some big field goals for us."

Wooten says one of the battles of being a kicker is while the rest of the team is running offense and defense in practice, the kickers are off in the corner by themselves.

But he still feels his teammates' support when he goes onto the field.

"I definitely feel a good part of this team," Wooten said. "We've got good chemistry here. I feel like everybody's come together this year."

Gamecock Anthem Top Stories