Former Deer Park football player named to Cleveland Browns roster

September 6, 2017

Former Deer Park High School all-district placekicker Zane Gonzalez was named to the Cleveland Browns’ season-opening, 53-player roster this past Saturday, the mandatory date for all NFL teams to trim their rosters to that number.

After an outstanding collegiate career at Arizona State University, Cleveland selected Gonzalez in the seventh round of this year’s NFL Draft back in May.

Cleveland, in its attempt to bounce back from a nightmarish 1-15 season last season, is leaning heavily on this year’s draft choices to begin turning the corner to years of mediocrity.

Of the 53 players named to the team, 28 were selected from the draft. But Cleveland essentially redid its entire roster in the off-season. Forty-two of the 53 players have been added since the 2016 season.

With the Browns needing to reduce their roster by a dozen players, Gonzalez was in a battle with Cody Parkey for the kicking job.

As the Browns were going 4-0 for their preseason contests, Gonzalez was 2-for-3 in field-goal attempts. Twice, Gonzalez attempted field goals in excess of 50 yards and he converted once, a 53-yarder against the Chicago Bears. Parkey was 2-for-2 with no attempts beyond 50 yards.

Despite his fine credentials at Arizona State, some would say Gonzalez was the underdog for Cleveland’s kicking job. Parkey is a former Pro Bowler with the Philadelphia Eagles, who set a franchise scoring record and NFL rookie scoring record of 150 points during the 2014 season.

But last season Parkey missed five field goals between 40 and 49 yards, including three against the Miami Dolphins. His third misfire, an attempt from 46 yards out could have won the game. Ironically, Miami claimed Parkey on Sunday after the Browns waived him.

“We could’ve went either way to be very honest with you because Cody has done some good things here, but Zane came in and proved that we did a great job in making the selection in drafting him. He held his own, guy obviously nailed a 53-yarder the other night and he’s done a great job thus far in camp and kicks the ball out of the end zone whenever we need him to do so,” Browns executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown stated in a press release.

Gonzalez concluded his collegiate career last fall by being named thje Lou Groza Award winner, presented to the nation’s top collegiate kicker. The 22-year-old holds six FBS records for kicking, finishing his career as the all-time FBS leader in field goals made with 96 and points by a kicker with 494.

Among his other notable Arizona State stats is the fact that Gonzalez averaged 9.7 points per game and he finished with an 82.7 career field goal percentage.

Last season, he split the uprights on 92 percent of his attempts, missing just two tries. His career high was 26 field goals his junior year.

Speaking of his junior year, Gonzalez’ best high school season was arguably his junior year. He scored the disbelieving total of 88 points, 35 points more than the second-best District 22-5A kicker that season as the district coaches unanimously named him to First Team All-District. He booted 15 field goals and 43 PATs.

His 88 points ranked second in the district for scoring, trailing only Dobie running back Andrew Robinson and his 140 points.