MANHATTAN — At any other program, it might seem rare. For any other player, it might feel strange.
But this is Kansas State and Jack Cantele we’re talking about. For them, the process of brother following brother at kicker is a simple case of history repeating itself.
It wasn’t that long ago that Jamie and Joe Rheem went back-to-back as K-State’s kicker during Bill Snyder’s first coaching stint. More recently, Cantele followed his older sibling, Anthony, as a kicker at Kapaun Mount Carmel. Now he is taking over for him again after three successful seasons with the Wildcats.
“It doesn’t happen that often, but it has happened a few times in the past few years here with the Rheems and the Canteles,” Cantele said. “I’m just getting started and I hope that I can live up to what they did and what Anthony did and hopefully leave a good taste in all the fans’ mouths.”
He is off to a good start. Cantele, a sophomore, booted two touchbacks and three extra points in his debut against North Dakota State. Then he made his first two field goals — from 27 and 29 yards — and hit six extra points against Louisiana-Lafayette. He was ready.
“It has been a long time waiting behind Anthony. There was no pressure to go in and perform before I was ready,” Cantele said. “Now I’ve been waiting so long I couldn’t wait to get out there. I have kicked so many balls now that it just feels like practice out there.”
Snyder rewarded Cantele’s efforts by elevating him to unquestioned starter on the team’s depth chart this week.
That success followed a grueling preseason competition with Matthew McCrane. After Cantele won the job, special-teams coordinator Sean Snyder promoted him to scholarship status the same way he had for Anthony a few years earlier. Little brother had arrived.
“The last few days of camp, I was laying in the training room getting some treatment and ice when I got a call from Sean,” Cantele said. “He just said they need to get me over to Bramlage one of these days to sign the scholarship papers. He was calm about it. I called my parents right away and they were excited. I couldn’t have been happier to hear that news.”
Cantele says he went to K-State to follow in his brother’s footsteps, but his journey to Manhattan was completely different.
The elder Cantele started at Missouri State as a soccer player and transferred to K-State as a sophomore. The younger Cantele played an odd mixture of sports in high school. He was a safety/receiver on the football team, and he dabbled in basketball and soccer, but he focused on golf.
A former scratch player, he remembers spending 12 hours a day every summer on the golf course. He once shot a 67 in a City League match at Auburn Hills Golf Course, and says he was being actively recruited by four Big 12 golf coaches during high school. His K-State bio lists more former golf accolades than field goals.
He hopes all the clutch putts he has made can help him in the fourth quarter. For now, he’s not sure which situation is more daunting.
“I will let you know when I get the opportunity to kick a game winner,” Cantele said. “As of right now it’s golf, but you don’t golf before 55,000 people in the stands and millions of people behind the camera.”
Cantele chose football over golf because he was more passionate about the sport. When he saw his brother succeed, he knew he wanted to do the same.
“I never gave (kicking) any serious thought until I saw how good he was doing,” Cantele said. “I heard he was getting scholarship offers to play in college to kick. I thought, well, I’m never going to be big enough to play safety or wide receiver at that level, so I might as well learn how to kick.”
In time, he did. Now Bill Snyder is showing confidence in him the same way he did his brother.
“I thought it was good for Jack to be able to get a couple of field goals,” Bill Snyder said. “He did fine, and he needs to continue to improve, and he understands that.”