Late last week, the Redskins announced that they had tendered a contract to kicker Graham Gano, bringing him back for a fourth season in Washington.
The ‘Graham-Champion’ of a brief kicking competition with Shayne Graham in training camp, Gano improved on his 2010 numbers and accounted for a career-high 119 points.
Along the way, he also broke the franchise record for longest field goal, with a 59-yard boom from midfield against the 49ers at FedExField. In an otherwise up-and-down year for the Redskins’ field goal team, everything came together on a perfect play, allowing Gano to do what he does best: crush kicks from downtown.
Don’t believe me? Check the Florida state football record book.
In high school at J. M. Tate High School, Gano was a three-star prospect and the third-ranked kicker in the country. He kicked a 50-yard field goal in the CaliFlorida All-Star Game in 2005.
As a senior at Tate, he nailed three kicks from beyond 55 yards: 57, 64 and 65. The second two kicks broke the Florida state kicking record, and remain in place today.
Technically, Gano should have a 67-yarder on high school résumé, but an offensive penalty on the play negated the kick. His 18-year-old self will be forced to settle for a record kick longer than any in NFL history.
[FYI: High school students are permitted to use tees on field goal kicks, a practice banned by both the NCAA and NFL. The national high school record was set by Dirk Borgognone’s 68-yarder in Nevada in 1985.]
Before anyone questions the integrity of the numbers or demands to know why his kicks have gotten shorter with age, remember that high schoolers are permitted to use tees on field goals. Both the NCAA and NFL have banned such practices.
No question, Gano has had his ups and downs in Washington, just like every young kicker with every team in the pros. With each passing season, Gano has found better accuracy and greater consistency.
If he can combine that with his well-documented power, he has the makings of the first Redskins franchise kicker in nearly 20 years.