Austin MacGinnis has made his mark on the UK football program. The senior placekicker has hit some of the most clutch field goals in my memory, including two last-second winners last season against Mississippi State and Louisville. Sadly, this season is the last for this outstanding kicker, and, in keeping with the nostalgia that comes with the ending of any era, I wanted to take a look back at the development of Austin MacGinnis from his time before Kentucky through to the clutch kicker we’ve come to love.
MacGinnis was one of the top kicking prospects in the 2012 recruiting cycle, according to Rivals and 247Sports.com. He played his senior year at Prattville High School in Prattville, AL and originally committed to play under then coach Joker Phillips. Fortunately for UK, Mark Stoops was able to retain the kicker’s commitment when he took over the helm in 2013.
After sitting out his freshman year, MacGinnis returned in 2014, and as a red shirt freshman, began cementing his legacy as an all-time great kicker. MacGinnis finished the season 21-of-27 (77%) on field goals and a perfect 41-of-41 on extra point tries. In the process of accruing these stats, the kicker set six UK football single-season records, including most points in a season (104), most field goals, most extra points without a miss, most touchbacks (25), longest field goal in school history (54 yards at Tennessee), and most consecutive made field goals (9). MacGinnis earned 2014 first-team All-SEC and first-team Freshman All-America honors. This was also the year MacGinnis started building his reputation for making clutch kicks with a 51 yard kick at Florida to send the game into overtime:
After his stellar red shirt season, hopes were high for MacGinnis coming into the 2015 season. Unfortunately, injury plagued his sophomore season with a groin injury in the Eastern Kentucky game at the beginning of the season. The lingering groin injury limited the sophomore to just 10 games in which he went 13-of-17 (76%) on field goals and made 22 extra point tries. He extended his streak of consecutive made field goals to 11 (carried over from the season before), a record which still stands today. Even with a shortened season, MacGinnis moved to 10th on Kentucky’s all-time scoring list with 165 points scored. The sophomore also participated in a unique service experience the summer after the 2015 season. MacGinnis spent a week in Ethiopia serving residents of impoverished communities. He visited men in prison, helped renovate houses, and worked with widows and orphans. I love hearing stories like this; I feel it gives a human face to athletes who we oftentimes only see on the field or in interviews.
Entering last season, MacGinnis was still trying to shake off the groin injury that plagued his 2015 campaign. He ended up finishing the season 16-of-19 (84%) on field goals and 44-of-45 (97%) on extra point tries. This brought his career point total up to 257 points, just 48 points shy of the all-time mark set by Lones Seiber (305 points) from 2006-2009. MacGinnis became just the third player all-time to score more the 200 points before his senior season; the other two were Lones Seiber and Randall Cobb, rarefied company to keep for a UK football player. He also tied Cobb to be the quickest UK player to score 200 points, both doing so in just 29 games. The accolades just continue from there. MacGinnis is just the second player to hit at least 50 field goals, joining Joey Worley who hit a school record 57 from 1984-1987. This is another record MacGinnis will break this season (after the South Carolina game he has hit 56 career field goals). MacGinnis is also the second player in school history to have four career field goals of over 50 yards in his career. Additionally, his 14 points scored in the win over Mississippi State last season were the most scored by a kicker in an SEC game since October 1992, when UK’s Doug Pelfrey scored 18 points, also against Mississippi State. MacGinnis also came up clutch, hitting two game-winning field goals; one against Mississippi State (see video above) and the second to beat Louisville for the first time since 2011:
For a full recounting of Austin MacGinnis’s career records at UK, read Freddie Maggard’s post on Kentucky Sports Radio; it truly is an impressive list.
Now MacGinnis is in his “super senior” season, having graduated this past May. He is pursuing an accelerated master’s of business administration at Kentucky’s Gatton College of Business and Economics that he’ll finish this coming spring. In addition to his football commitments, MacGinnis is tackling a 19-credit hour course load this semester, during football season, and will be taking 22 credits in the spring. MacGinnis is also pursuing some lofty goals on the football field. After this weekend’s game in South Carolina, he is only 23 points away from setting UK’s all-time scoring record; that’s a mark that is easily within his grasp. In a recent Herald-Leader article, MacGinnis told the Leader’s Jennifer Smith, “I know I’m close, but I don’t think about it a lot. I just want to have a good senior year for the team and for myself and try to go to the NFL.”
Over his four years at UK, MacGinnis has only missed 14 field goals, making 80% of his attempts. With his consistency in regular game time and his ability to hit the clutch field goal when the team needs it, Coach Stoops has no trouble turning to his kicker in tight situations. Said Stoops to a caller on his radio show this past week, “For a game-winner, I’d be comfortable probably — depending on the wind — if we had to go 57, 58 (yards) maybe. I’ve seen him kick 60 in practice.” That is high praise for the senior kicker. While I hope there aren’t a lot of games that come down to a game-winning field goal this season I know that with Austin MacGinnis taking the kick that the Wildcats will stand a very good chance to win that game.