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Kicking his way up

By Charles Renning
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday November 8, 2002

Forgive junior kicker Bobby Gill if he has no idea what you are talking about when you ask him a question about quitting.

That word's not in his vocabulary.

Who is Bobby Gill?

Bobby Gill
· Number: No. 28
· Experience: 1L
· Position: Kicker/Place Kicker
· Year: Junior
· Hometown: Phoenix
· High school: Brophy Prep

Notes: Gill has made six of eight field goals this season, including six straight since taking over the starting position.

During his freshman year in the fall of 1999, Gill tried out as a walk-on kicker for the Wildcats, but was cut and told that he could try out again next season.

The Phoenix native was a little disappointed and debated if all the time and effort he put into playing college football was worth it. Plus, he didn't even know if he'd make the team, let alone see the field.

Gill was faced with two options. He could either work hard and come back in the following year to try out again, or he could give up on football and concentrate on his academic endeavors.

The second choice wasn't even an option for him.

Immediately after being cut, Gill worked out and did everything he could to ensure that he wouldn't be cut a second year.

"I've never quit at anything in my life, so I went back to work, grinded it out and got ready for the next year," Gill said.

The next season, Gill tried out for the team again, but this time he had different results. He made the team, but his work was still not done. He still was determined to get playing time.

During the 2000 season he never saw the field, but went out to practice every day and kept working at it.

"It was difficult to sit around and not be part of the team and not be in the game," Gill said. "I never really sat on the bench much in my life."

The 2001 season was a little better, as Gill handled the fourth-quarter kickoff duties in the Wildcats' 51-37 Homecoming loss to Stanford.

"He never got down when he didn't get a chance (to kick) and he'd been kicking well," special teams coach Scott Pelluer said. "He stuck to it and worked hard."

Coming into this season, it seemed as though it would be more of the same. He might get a chance to kick here and there, but still the chances of him becoming the everyday kicker were slim.

Senior kicker Sean Keel had been the Wildcats' place kicker for the entire 2001 season, and there was nothing that would indicate that Gill would be taking over until Keel graduated after UA head coach John Mackovic recruited Nick Folk, who redshirted this season.

However, Gill saw his first action as a place kicker in the fourth quarter of the Wildcats' 37-3 win over Northern Arizona. Gill added the team's final three points with a 26-yard field goal.

The next time he would see the field was three weeks later in Arizona's close 14-9 win over North Texas.

Keel had missed two field goals and had one blocked earlier in the game, thus opening the door for Gill. He came on with under five minutes to go in the game to attempt a 44-yard field goal that would have put the Wildcats up by eight. However, it was blocked.

Not even that discouraged Gill, nor the coaches, who have confidently given Gill the starting spot. Minus a 47-yard miss against Stanford öö his first as a starter öö he has been a perfect 6-for-6 including ones from 47, 43, and 42 yards away.

After three-plus years of working his way into the starting position, Gill is making the most of his opportunities and enjoying every minute of it.

"If you work your rear off, good things happen," Pelluer said. "It couldn't have happened to a better kid, and he's made the most of it."

"It's been a long road to get to where I am today," said Gill. "Everything has been worth it."


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