Public perception is unpredictable in the world of college football. One minute, you feel overlooked. The next, you feel like you’re getting too much attention.
Kansas State kicker Matthew McCrane can attest. The senior from Brownwood, Texas has experienced some some wild ebbs and flows this season.
A few months ago, he shared a video of himself excelling in practice just to remind the world he could still do it. Now, after making 17 of 21 field goals, he is up for the Lou Groza Award and on the cusp of breaking K-State’s record for field goals.
With one more kick through the uprights, McCrane will tie Martin Gramatica’s career record of 54 field goals, a mark that has stood at K-State for 19 years. McCrane will sit atop the school record books if he has a good day against West Virginia.
“I am just trying to stay level headed and finish out the season right,” McCrane said. “I have seen kickers in the past let (success) get to them and not finish very well. I am trying to keep the blinders on and not think about it.”
So much so that he covers his ears when friends bring up the possibility of accolades.
“I don’t even want to hear it,” McCrane said. “Just let me finish the season and kick. If those things happen and come along with it, then great.”
Overconfidence might be the only thing that could slow McCrane at the moment. Nothing else has this season. He is on pace for his most successful year in a K-State uniform. He is perfect (11 for 11) on field goals up to 41 yards, and above average (6 of 10) on longer attempts. Three of his field goals have been longer than 50 yards. He has been hot lately, connecting on five straight in wins over Kansas and Texas Tech.
Though none of his field goals have been game-winners, he has made several pressure kicks, including a 30-yarder that pulled K-State within one score late against the Red Raiders and a 41-yarder that put K-State ahead by two scores late against the Jayhawks.
McCrane credits holder Mitch Lochbihler and long snapper Drew Scott for helping him find his groove. They get the ball in place so quickly, he said, that he doesn’t have to worry about blocked kicks.
It’s been a refreshing run for McCrane, who has rarely been healthy enough to go on successful kicking streaks.
After making 18 of 19 field goals as a freshman, he missed significant time as a sophomore and junior while dealing with injuries. His accuracy (86.9 percent for his career) has never wavered, but he could have passed Gramatica much earlier with a clean bill of health.
“I hate that I missed the kicks that I did and I wish I could have made it a couple more seasons fully healthy,” McCrane said. “(The record) is exciting and cool to think about, especially to be on a pedestal with somebody like Martin.”
Three games remain in McCrane’s career, and possibly a bowl.
Through nine games, he leads the Big 12 in field goals made and attempted. His 54-yarder against Texas is the longest kick in the league this season. He could close his career with all-conference honors, and maybe even more.
It’s an exciting time for him, but he is trying to downplay the situation as much as possible. He would rather focus on his kicking than public perception.
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett