Kicker Joe Mansour came to the University of Kentucky as a four-star prospect and a high school All-American, but he had his share of growing pains last season.
The 6-foot-2 sophomore with the big leg has been steady for UK this season, handling all kickoff duties with 31 kickoffs and 10 touchbacks. The Cats rank fifth in the Southeastern Conference in kickoff coverage behind Mansour.
Here are five questions with the Kentucky kicker from LaGrange, Ga.:
Question: How much progress do you feel like you've made from last season?
Answer: Just getting to know all the players and coaches, just getting more comfortable definitely helped me out the most. Last year I didn't really know anybody and I just came in and tried to get a spot. I didn't play as much as everybody expected me to, but now I'm just working hard every day trying to get back to that spot where I was at.
Q: Special teams coach Greg Nord said part of your problem last season was kicking off the tee. What's the difference in it and how does it change what you do?
A: In high school, you're allowed to use a field-goal tee, it lets you get a better kick on the ball, get it higher. When it's on the ground (like in college), you have less of a chance to hit it as solid as you want to. So I guess it takes a lot of time in practice to get that stroke down.
Q: How frustrating was 2010 for you?
A: I was definitely frustrated because I couldn't perform as well as I did in high school, but I kept practicing and stuck with it and I'm fine now.
Q: When did you know you wanted to be a kicker?
A: In the eighth grade I played football for the first time. I played soccer before. ... I just started kicking and kicked a 46-yarder and ever since then, I just kept going to camps and getting more technique and stuff.
Q: What's the longest field goal you've ever kicked in a game or practice?
A: In a game, I kicked a 60-yarder my senior year of high school. (In practice) there was like a hurricane one day and I got back there and kicked almost a 69-yarder. But it was a pretty gale-force wind.
Q: Would you like to see yourself get an expanded role here? What would you like to see yourself do in the future at Kentucky?
A: Right now I'm just practicing. I'm working toward the future, I don't know where it's going to take me, but right now I'm just trying to get better every day. So whatever I fall into is fine.