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Appreciating Austin MacGinnis

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MacGinnis has been one of the best kickers in college football this season.

NCAA Football: Mississippi State at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Where would Kentucky be without Austin MacGinnis this season?

MacGinnis has been a hero for the Kentucky Wildcats this season in a way few college kickers ever are for their teams. His first game-winning kick of the year came by hitting the 51-yard field goal to defeat Mississippi State.

And this one against Louisville is still fresh on the minds of Kentucky fans. Keep in mind, this was no chip shot at 47 yards.

The clutch factor is obviously huge and has played the deciding factor in two games. Think of it this way: If MacGinnis misses those two kicks, Kentucky is potentially looking at a third consecutive 5-7 season, and the coaching staff has some major questions to answer. Instead, Kentucky is looking at a likely bid to the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville.

But aside from the clutch factor, taking a look at the statistics, MacGinnis is one of the best kickers in the SEC. MacGinnis’ field goal percentage of 83.3 percent ranks him third behind Ole Miss’ Gary Wunderlich at 95.7 percent on 23 attempts and Auburn’s Daniel Carlson at 86.7 percent on 30 attempts. Carlson is also one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Award, given annually to the country’s best placekicker.

MacGinnis was also 5/6 on field goals from beyond 40 yards, which is amongst the best percentages in the conference.

MacGinnis has been pretty solid for his career at UK. Over the past three years, MacGinnis is 49/62 on field goal attempts (17/24 from beyond 40 yards) and is 106/108 on XP attempts. His redshirt freshman year in 2014, he was named First Team All SEC, and set school records for made field goals (21), longest field goal (54 yards), and points scored in a season (104).

His 2015 sophomore campaign, he struggled with nagging injuries throughout the season and did not have a significant jump from his impressive freshman season. He still hit 13/17 field goals.

If he stays healthy, MacGinnis will be set up for a strong senior season. He currently sits at eighth on UK Football’s all-time leading scorers list, but is set up to finish near the top. Just a repeat of his 88-point performance would move him to second behind Lones Seiber (305 points).

MacGinnis is also 21 made field goals away from Lones Seiber’s record of 49 career made field goals. One should also keep in mind these statistics include bowl games, which MacGinnis has not played in until this season. Continuing on his current pace, he will also finish with one of the best field goal percentages among Kentucky kickers since 2000.

Austin MacGinnis has been a valued member of the Kentucky Wildcats for the last three years, and the Big Blue Nation should be thankful to have him in Lexington.