Clemson fills big need with kicker commitment
|Friday, June 14, 2013, 3:33 PM- -|
CLEMSON - Clemson fans have found out how important the kicking game can be in the past few seasons, with rising senior Chandler Catanzaro nailing game-winning kicks to clinch and ACC Atlantic Division title and a bowl win over LSU.
The Tigers may have found the heir apparent to Cat Man when Florence (SC) West Florence’s
Alex Spence Alex Spence
View Full Profile committed to Clemson at the end of Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
View Full Profile ’s high school camp. The 2014 prospect has been on Clemson’s campus the past three days, and did extremely well in a Thursday session – and got some big news Friday afternoon.
“I was invited to go to Coach Swinney’s office when camp was over,” Spence told TigerNet shortly after he committed. “We sat down in there and they said they liked me as a kicker and they liked my character and they wanted me on the team.”
Spence didn’t have to think long about his answer.
“He was telling me that he wanted me on his team, and I let him finish,” Spence said. “I said, ‘Well, coach, there is no place I would rather be than here’ and I committed. I am on top of the world right now.”
Spence didn’t grow up watching college football, but became interested when West Florence teammate Alex Howell went on to kick for Boston College.
“I really didn't watch college football until the sixth grade,” he said. “I really didn't have a favorite team – I just liked it in general. But then the kicker ahead of me at West Florence went to Boston College to play, and my sophomore year I went up to Clemson to watch him play against Clemson. While I was there, I found out I really liked the campus and the stadium. The next year, I went to their summer camp and they gave me a tour and I fell in love with it. I went to more games this past year, and there is nowhere else that really compares to it.”
As a junior, Spence hit 11-of-13 field goal attempts with a long of 47 yards and hit 50-of-54 extra point attempts. He also had 42 touchbacks, and his strong leg was drawing the interest of South Carolina and Florida as well as Clemson.
However, his camp session at Clemson made his decision easy.
“It was a lot of fun,” he said. “We got to kick inside of Death Valley, which is really cool, and then we played Swinney ball at night. That was a lot of fun, and I had a lot of fun with the coaches and just really enjoyed the atmosphere. It was a lot of fun.”
During Thursday’s session inside his future home, Spence was a perfect 5-for-5 on his kicks – all into the wind – his last one at 50 yards. He told TigerNet that he is comfortable at 55 yards and in, but has made a 59-yarder in a game.
Now, he hopes he can continue a strong Clemson tradition and follow in Catanzaro’s footsteps.
“I have not met him yet, but I’ve seen him on television,” Spence said. “He is a very good kicker, and very consistent. I just want to continue the tradition and follow in his footsteps and in the footsteps of all the great kickers at Clemson.”
Spence said the coaches told him he will have a chance to come in and contribute right away.
“When they talked to me on Junior Day, they told me they have a punter and a kickoff guy in Bradley Pinion, but said that they have a senior leaving,” he said. “I know there is a chance to compete for the kicking spot, and I can also give Bradley some relief on kickoffs and punts if they want to give him a break.”