For the first time since the Jack Harding MVP Award’s inception in 1963, a kicker won the award.
Yes, a kicker.
Junior placekicker Matt Bosher was voted by his teammates and coaches as the Canes’ Most Valuable Player last year. He was also named a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award, given annually to the nation’s best kicker.
Bosher’s standout performance as a sophomore provided stability to a team in serious need. The 2007 Hurricanes squad managed a level of overall inconsistency that was simply astounding. In 2008, however, Bosher brought consistency to one of the most important but often overlooked facets of the game: special teams.
The Jupiter, Fla., native maintained a 90 percent field-goal percentage (18 of 20 on the season), averaged 42.3 yards per punt and earned himself accolades on the All-ACC Second Team as both a kicker and punter as well as a spot on the Lou Groza 2009 Watch List.
Last year Bosher connected on two field goals over 50 yards. In addition, he successfully converted a fake punt for a first down against Florida State.
Rather than reminiscing about his past success, however, the 6-0, 205-pounder says he is focused on the future.
“It’s in the past,” he said of his honors. “We have a new season coming up and we’re all going to play hard.”
Teaming up on kicking duties with Bosher will be redshirt freshman and Illinois native Jake Wieclaw. According to head coach Randy Shannon, the two kickers have been working together, and both have taken kickoffs in the last few scrimmages.
“I’ve learned a lot from Bosher,” Wieclaw said. “He’s a great kicker, and whenever you have someone that good ahead of you, it definitely helps.”
Bosher had similar praise for his teammate.
“Jake’s doing really well field goal-wise, practicing punts and kickoffs, just a very nice job all around,” he said. ” He’s matured and gotten stronger, and he’s improved on a lot of stuff.”
Just days before the season opener, Shannon has not announced who will be responsible for kickoff duties.
So far in the practices leading up to the showdown against the Seminoles, both kickers have seemed content with the play of the unit.
“Special teams have been playing really well,” Bosher said. “Guys are getting down field, flying down and making tackles.”
One of Bosher’s most impressive performances from 2008 came against the Florida Gators in Gainesville, where he kicked a 50-yard field goal in a loss to the eventual BCS National Champions. Perhaps more memorable than the field goal were three big tackles made by the kicker on special teams.
When asked about his tackling ability, Bosher smiled.
“Right now guys are getting downfield in a hurry, so hopefully I won’t have to worry about making too many tackles this year.”
As long as Bosher can replicate his success from last season, the Hurricanes cannot ask for much more out of their star kicker.