Item: July 1 each year has always meant (to us) the end of the previous Syracuse sports seasons covering football, basketball and lacrosse, and the beginning of the next sports year, or in this case 2019-2020, the beginning of a new decade to boot. With that is mind as we look ahead to the next academic year’s cycle that kicks-off with the appropriately-named ACC Kickoff event in Charlotte July 16-18, we present our Orange Watch Syracuse athlete of the year for 2018-19.
One year ago at this time, be honest, had you ever heard the name Andre Szmyt?
He came out of the pack in training camp to win the starting job, and it took a quick look up to see the spelling of No. 91 as the redshirt freshman trotted out on the field to attempt the first of his school single-season record 61 extra point conversions against Western Michigan nine months ago, eventually finishing without a miss on his PATs.
As submitted to the ACC as the school’s nominee for top male athlete, and compiled by the Syracuse football media relation staff headed by Mike Morrison, here’s why the choice of Andre Szmyt was a no-brainer:
- Winner of the Lou Groza Award as the nation’s top placekicker
- First Syracuse kicker and third freshman to ever win the award, joining Arizona State’s Thomas Weber (2007) and Florida State’s Roberto Aguayo (2013)
- Unanimous First-Team All-American (Walter Camp, FWAA, AP, AFCA, Sporting News)
- Received All-America honors from 14 different selectors, including 12 first-team citations
- Touchdown Club of Columbus Vlade Award winner as college football’s most accurate kicker
- All-ACC First Team
- All-ECAC First Team
- Two-time ACC Specialist of the Week (vs. Florida State, at Clemson)
- All-ACC Academic Team selection
- Led the NCAA with an ACC-record 30 made field goals, one short of the all-time FBS mark of 31 held by Georgia’s Billy Bennett
- Also led the NCAA in field goals attempted (34), field goals per game (2.31) and points per game (11.6)
- Second kicker in FBS history to lead the nation in scoring average, joining Boise State’s Tyler Jones (2004)
- Ranked second nationally with 151 points scored, the third-highest total ever for an FBS kicker
- Overall, ranked 10th nationally in field goal percentage (.882), but was No. 1 in conversion rate among the eight kickers with at least 27 attempts
- Made 23-of-24 field goals from inside 40 yards
- First Syracuse kicker to hit three field goals of 50+ yards in the same season and was 3-for-3 from beyond 50 yards for the year
- Set the Syracuse single-season record for extra points, making all 61 of his tries
- His career-long, 54-yard field goal at Pitt tied for the second-longest field goal ever kicked at Heinz Field (college or pro)
- Booted multiple field goals in 11 out of 13 games
- Recorded two separate streaks of 11 straight field goals without a miss
- Recorded 10+ points 11 times and tallied 15+ points on three occasions
- Connected on a personal-best four field goals vs. Louisville and added six PATs to finish with a career-high 18 points against the Cardinals
There are not too many Syracuse players (Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Don McPherson, Marvin Graves and Donovan McNabb excluded) who have had better individual seasons in Orange football history than Andre Szmyt.