First the Giants had a Pro Bowl kicker in Josh Brown, then they didn’t with his one-game suspension. In his stead was journeyman Randy Bullock. Then Brown was back and Bullock was gone. Next on the kicking agenda was Brown’s admission that he had indeed been involved with domestic violence against his wife, and was subsequently released. In came former Chicago Bears kicker Robbie Gould who quietly went 10-for-10 on field goals and 20-of-23 on extra points. Gould, who was the Bears’ all-time leader in career points, field goals made and career field goals over 50 yards long, is now 35 and is a free agent. Perhaps a new kid is in store.
(6-foot-1, 190) Arizona State, Projected round: 5
Q: You are now the highest-ranked kicker for the upcoming NFL draft. What do you offer a team that wants you?
Gonzalez: I have a lot of confidence and leadership abilities. Experience is key for a kicker. I started off as a true freshman and kicked all four years.
Q: You have really great range. What was your longest attempt?
Gonzalez: I have hit lots of 65-yarders in practice, but in a game I nailed a 59-yard field goal against Colorado at their house. Someone said it cleared at least 10 yards. I hit it real good and felt good coming off my foot. I have been blessed, and that was a happy day even though we lost.
Q: You were twice named to the First Team All-Pac- 12 team and last season named unanimous All American. What do you attribute your success to?
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Gonzalez: I grew up playing soccer playing midfield and striker. All game you are using the skills that you use when you kick a football and really don’t even realize it. Arizona State was a great play to play and get an education. Having faith in God and your family behind you is always the fabric that you become.
Q: You set the record for most field goals in a college career this season breaking the old mark of 88. What were your thoughts when you lined up for that 46-yard kick against UCLA which would make the 89th kick?
Gonzalez: I think the harder kick was the one before that tied the record. It was only 23 yards but I couldn’t help but think ‘please don’t miss this.’ But having the record is something I highly prize especially being a home win and we won by three points. It wasn’t exactly the best kick I have ever hit and looked it over the whole way. I was fortunate to play at a program that uses the kicker a lot and to have played all four seasons was the difference. My coaches believe in me. I definitely earned my stripes.
Q: What was it like to win the Groza Award this year for the Best Kicker?
Gonzalez: What an honor. So many great players and every year more and more are making longer and longer field goals. I had three 59-yard kicks in one game against Colorado, but one day 50-yarders will just be a standard kick.
Q: What is the advantage of playing in the Senior Bowl?
Gonzalez: I hope that I will solidify what everyone thinks about me. To prove myself yet again and show my worth is the reason I am here. The teams do interviews all week also, so they get to know you on a personal level and get to know me.
Q: How do you handle the pressure in must-kick situations?
Gonzalez: I handle the pressure pretty well and don’t lack for confidence. I actually love getting on the field and have a bunch of people screaming their heads off. You feel pretty alive.
Q: You were a Notre Dame fan growing up. Players you followed?
Gonzalez: Well, the Brady Quinn era is what I remember most and about the time I started to follow college football. I also liked Tiki Barber although he didn’t play for Notre Dame.
Q: Are the Giants your NFL team?
Q: You saved the best for your final season making 92 percent of your field goals. What are your goals for next season?
Gonzalez: At a minimum make an NFL team. Once I get that spot just excel. Hopefully
have a 90 percent ratio or better. I set my standards high and just earn a job.
Q: The NFL has moved the extra point back. What is your opinion of that?
Gonzalez: It has made the extra point more interesting. But there are a lot of factors like cold weather and wind. Makes people respect the position more now that they see how it affects the game. I agree with it. I think it’s the best thing for the game.
Barry Shuck was at the Senior Bowl this week gathering interviews and providing live coverage for Giants fans.