Former Bishop England kicker Drew Costa still with Clemson team as competition goes down to wire
CLEMSON — Clemson’s game against Georgia Tech is just days away and the seventh-ranked Tigers still don’t know who will run down the hill as the starting kicker for Saturday night’s game at Memorial Stadium.
Come early, Dabo Swinney said. The competition is going to last until the final moments before kickoff.
“We’ve still got Tuesday practice, Wednesday practice, Thursday practice and I’m going to watch them in warmups. They’ll be the most watched warmups in the history of kicking warmups,” Swinney said Tuesday. “All the way to kickoff I’m charting it. I have no idea who’s going to run out there first.”
Swinney’s three options are Alex Spence, who took over after starter Greg Huegel tore his ACL, third string kicker Christian Grooms and former Bishop England kicker Drew Costa. Costa is still in the mix after Swinney invited him to try out last week following Spence’s struggles at Syracuse.
Swinney said Spence has the skills and talent to handle kickoffs, field goals and extra points, but he struggles with nerves and a lack of confidence in games. He is two of six on the year in field goals, and after he missed two field goals — 35 and 38 yards — at Syracuse, Swinney reached out to Costa, who previously tried out for the team but didn’t make it.
“I’m just asking (my kickers) to make the layups. I ain’t interested in the 3-pointer,” Swinney said. “Let’s just make the layups.”
Swinney joked last week that Costa was on a “day-to-day, kick-to-kick contract” as the Tigers brought him in for an extended tryout. If Clemson were to play now, Swinney said, Spence would still have his job. But Costa has impressed Clemson enough to still be on the team and it appears he will dress out Saturday. Costa’s career-long field goal at Bishop England was 47 yards and he won two state titles with the Bishops under coach John Cantey, who plans to come support his former star.
“He’s doing great,” Swinney said of Costa. “Every day, he’s extending his contract. He’s getting his meals now — walk-ons get to eat,” Swinney laughed. “So that’s good. Loving life. We’ll get him some gear this weekend. He’s really done a good job.”