Last season, Texas A&M
had eight games that were decided by six points or less, four of those games were decided by three points or less. With five games on the road in hostile environments, it's likely that several games could once again come down to the final plays. That's why sophomore place kicker Matt Szymanski
is No. 17 on the list of 2007 Websider Impact Players.
The Aggies will probably need a clutch kick in the closing minutes of one of those games, and this year, Szymanski will not have a safety net in Layne Neumann
, who finished out his eligibility last season. Therefore, Szymanski will need to regain the confidence that made him one of the best high school kickers in the country less than two years ago.
What he's done so far
Szymanski graduated a year early from A&M Consolidated High School in College Station and suited up as a true freshman in 2006. In 2005, he took home the Marshall Young Trophy as the outstanding kicker by TexasHSFootball.com and won the kicking camps at A&M, LSU
, Ohio State
, North Carolina
and Mississippi State
in 2004 and 2005.
He set a new Texas 5A record with 19 field goals in 2005, including a career-long 61-yard field goal against Euless Trinity in the State Semifinals, which still stands as the longest field goal in Texas state playoff history.
So he knows he can do it.
But last year, Szymanski struggled in his first season at the college level. He was just 1-for-4 in field goal attempts before losing the starting job to Neumann. However, he did boot a 35-yard field goal against Cal in the Holiday Bowl and was a perfect 12-for-12 on extra points.
He also bombed 45 percent of his kickoffs into the endzone for touchbacks and allowed just 17 yards per return on the kickoffs that were returnable, which helped improve the Aggies overall starting field position in 2006.
Why he's important
Szymanski is the man in 2007. Neumann is gone and it's time for him to show that he's the real deal. He possesses one of the strongest legs in the country and he's been preparing for this opportunity since junior high. Now he just needs to regain the confidence that he had before last season.
With a year of experience under his belt, expect Szymanski to have a break out season, especially after he drills a 40-yard kick on the road as time expires to knock off Oklahoma, or Miami
, or Nebraska, or Tech--you get the picture.
One of those games could come down to the leg of Matt Szymanski, and hopefully he will deliver.
2007 Aggie Websider Impact Players
17. Matt Szymanski, PK
18. Earvin Taylor, WR
19. Kirk Elder, OL
20. Corey Clark, OL
21. Pierre Brown, WR
22. Chris Yoder, OL
23. Yemi Babalola, OL
24. Kerry Franks, WR/KR
25. Justin Brantly, P
Aggie Websider takes a look at 25 players who can make the biggest impact for the Aggies this year. These rankings are not based on talent, but rather, what contributions can be made by individuals to put Texas A&M back among the nation's elite programs. No. 17? Sophomore PK Matt Szymanski.
Aggie Websider takes a look at 25 players who could make the biggest impact in 2007