"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."
Wooten earns trust of coach, teammates
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