Tagging the Gators: K Caleb Sturgis

Editor’s note: Each day between now and Florida’s Allstate Sugar Bowl date with Louisville, GatorNation will review the season for a key Gators player and attempt to project what’s next. Today we’ll look at K Caleb Sturgis.

K Caleb Sturgis

Redshirt senior

23-for-27 field goals; 32-for-33 PATs; 101 points

Role in 2012: Sturgis had the best season of his career and was a finalist for the Lou Groza Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top kicker.

The good: Sturgis’ 23 field goals tied Bobby Raymond’s single-season record and his 69 career field goals are a school record. He already holds the school record with eight field goals of 50 or more yards. He affected the way offensive coordinator Brent Pease called plays because once the Gators got to the 35-yard line they were in Sturgis’ range, so Pease would get a little more conservative to make sure they didn’t lose an almost sure chance for three points.

The bad: What can you find wrong with the greatest kicker in school history? He probably worked out too much early in his career, which was a factor in the back injury that cost him the final nine games of the 2010 season. He has backed off a bit and works out enough to maintain his strength and flexibility.

Crystal ball: Sturgis is Mel Kiper, Jr.’s, second-ranked kicker behind Florida State’s Dustin Hopkins. He’ll be drafted and should have a long career in the NFL. He’s very accurate (79.3 percent in his career and 85 percent his final two seasons) and his strong leg will allow him to be effective in bad weather. If he lands with a dome team he could become a consistent long-range weapon the way he was at Florida.