Anthony Cantele admits, “It took some time to adjust to the different shape.”
Cantele, a sophomore product of Wichita Kapaun Mt. Carmel, was more comfortable kicking around a round soccer ball, but now is taking aim on the funny shaped one that has points on each end.
“It was good to have a year to sit out and just work on technique and the transition back into football,” said the 5-foot-11, 188-pound sophomore. “At Missouri State, I wasn’t associated with the football team. I just played soccer.”
Saturday, Cantele just might find himself kicking against his former school when Missouri State visits Bill Snyder Family Stadium in a 6:10 p.m. kickoff.
Cantele played both sports in high school, but accepted a scholarship to play soccer at the Springfield-based school.
Saying only that, “I didn’t have a good experience (at Missouri State),” he decided to give football a try and sent tapes of his high school days to K-State, Kansas and Miami.
The day after Bill Snyder was hired, KSU assistant Joe Bob Clements gave Cantele a call and he joined the program in January of 2009.
After sitting out last year due to the NCAA transfer rule, Cantele was poised to backup Josh Cherry in 2010 before an injury to Cherry opened the door to his opportunity.
Of being told last Wednesday that he would kick against the Bruins, Cantele said, “Those days until the game were pretty long. I had been kicking good up until that point, but then on Thursday I shanked a few.”
On Thursday, perhaps, but not on Saturday when in a 31-22 victory over UCLA, Cantele had four kickoffs that went for touchbacks, was true on four extra-points, plus added a 35-yard field goal that split the uprights.
“It was in the middle of the field, which are the easiest to make,” said Cantele of his three-pointer. “They don’t get much easier than that.”
And of the kickoffs that went 8- to 10-yards deep into the end zone, Cantele admitted, “That’s about as good as I can hit it.”
For the record, K-State had just six touchbacks all of last year, and Cantele had four against the Bruins.
SPEAKING OF KICKOFFS:
Bill Snyder was disappointed with K-State’s coverage on kickoffs last year as teams started drives, on average, at the 28-yard line.
Saturday against the Bruins, first-time kicker Anthony Cantele booted four touchbacks, but Snyder was upset that two Josh Smith returns covered 55 yards, which included a 28-yard return and another of 27 yards.
“We might have been the second worst kickoff team in history (Saturday). We were the worst last year, so I guess that means we’ve made some improvement,” said the KSU coach. “We hit the ball well, but now we need to learn how to cover it.”
‘CATS IN THE NFL:
Kansas State has 14 former players on National Football League rosters with the season openers scheduled for later this week.
The longest tenured Wildcats are nine-year pros Rock Cartwright and Jon McGraw, plus eight-year cornerback Terrance Newman. In his sixth season is Joshua Moore.
The lone rookie to make a roster is Brandon Banks with the Washington Redskins. Banks was signed as an undrafted free agent.
Other ex-Wildcats may be added to practice rosters at a later date.
Here are the ’Cats in the NFL:
Brandon Banks, WR, Washington
Rock Cartwright, RB, Oakland
Jeromey Clary, OT, San Diego
Zac Diles, LB, Houston
Yamon Figurs, WR, Oakland
Josh Freeman, QB, Tampa Bay
Ben Leber, LB, Minnesota
Ryan Lilja, OG, Kansas City
Jon McGraw, S, Kansas City
Joshua Moore, CB, Chicago
Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay
Terence Newman, CB, Dallas
Darren Sproles, RB, San Diego
Reggie Walker, LB, Arizona