BRADENTON — A season ago, Florida State kicker Ricky Aguayo got off to a rough start, making only one of his first four field-goal attempts. The senior cannot afford a similar slump to kick off his final collegiate campaign.
Aguayo’s 276 career points rank 11th on FSU’s all-time scoring list, and his 75 percent conversion rate on field-goal attempts ranks fifth in program history. Despite his accolades, the veteran will be looking over his shoulder at freshman Ryan Fitzgerald, 247Sports’ No. 12 kicker in the 2019 class.
“Competition is always good,” Aguayo said this week as the Seminoles practiced at IMG Academy. “Here at Florida State, you’re always going to have competition.”
The freshman is a new candidate for the kicking job that Aguayo has owned for the past three seasons. The incumbent welcomes the challenge.
“I’m trying to help (Fitzgerald) around in being a freshman,” Aguayo said. “You know, I was there once.”
#Seminoles senior kicker Ricky Aguayo on freshman kicker Ryan Fitzgerald: “Competition is always good,” Aguayo said. “Here at Florida State, you’re always going to have competition.” pic.twitter.com/1g230naHEV— Ryan Kolakowski (@RyanKolakowski) August 14, 2019
Fitzgerald, a native of Coolidge, Ga., holds state high school records with 51 career field goals and eight career field goals of 50 yards or longer. During his junior year, the strong-legged Colquitt County product converted a 60-yarder in game action.
Last season, Aguayo converted 11 of 17 attempts. His 64.7 percent success rate was the worst of his three-year career. After starting 1-for-4 through the first three games, Aguayo went 3-for-3 against Northern Illinois, making one field goal from 50 yards and two from 42.
“I think I just started off the year on a bad foot,” Aguayo said. “There’s always something to improve on. I finished the season really strong.”
Through the season’s final nine games, Aguayo went 10-for-13 on field goal attempts, and he converted a career-long 53-yarder at Miami on Oct. 6.
For the season, Aguayo was perfect on all attempts shorter than 30 yards or longer than 50, but his troubles came on mid-range kicks. He went 3-for-5 (60 percent) on field-goal attempts of 30 to 39 yards, and 4-for-8 (50 percent) on attempts from 40 to 49 yards. One of those misses, a 45-yard attempt against Boston College, was blocked by the Eagles.
Florida State kicker Ricky Aguayo is focusing on his mechanics to improve accuracy and distance on field goals. The #Seminoles kicker said he’s comfortable at 52 yards, but is capable from 55+ pic.twitter.com/bGmPJqGYk8— Ryan Kolakowski (@RyanKolakowski) August 14, 2019
The senior said he is refining his mechanics to improve accuracy. He has spent his offseason watching film and “paying more attention to the details” of his kicking technique.
“Just technical stuff, as kickers, trying to improve that,” Aguayo said. “It will take care of the accuracy and distance.”
Entering the season, Aguayo said he is comfortable on attempts up to 52 yards, and is willing to attempt kicks from 55 or longer.
An Aguayo, be it Ricky or older brother Roberto, have owned the primary kicking duties at Florida State every year since 2013. The younger Aguayo has no intentions of losing the job.
“I think I’ll have a good year,” he said.