After a 2020 season that allowed players to transfer with instant eligibility, sit out a season, and return for another, it’s hard to keep track of who all will be playing this season in the Big Ten Conference. More importantly, who will be putting on the most impressive performances?
We continue our annual Ranking the Big Ten series today with the kickers.
1. Connor Culp, Nebraska
Connor Culp is, naturally, at the top of this list as the reigning Big Ten Kicker of the Year. In fact, Culp was Nebraska’s leading scorer in 2020 with 59 points. Quarterback Adrian Martinez was second with 42 points.
Culp, who transferred from LSU the summer before the 2020 season, completed all 20 of his extra-point attempts and went 13 of 15 on field goals. Culp completed all four of his 20-yarder attempts and his only 40-yarder attempt. This 49-yard field goal is the longest of Culp’s career.
The first-team All-Big Ten selection had the fourth-highest PFF field goal grade among the Big Ten kickers with a 78.3.
Culp was granted the ability to come back and kick in front of Nebraska’s fan base for the first time in 2021, and he will provide them and head coach Scott Frost with much-needed consistency at kicker.
2. Charles Campbell, Indiana
Indiana kicker Charles Campbell led the Big Ten kickers with a field goal grade of 86.3 and ranked No. 7 when compared against all the Power Five kickers.
The first-team All-Big Ten selection by Phil Steele connected on 10 of 11 field goals and all of his 25 PATs. Campbell completed both of his 20-yarder attempts, all three of his 30-yard attempts, and went 2-for-3 on 40-yarders.
Campbell connected on all three of his 50-yard field goal attempts, the most in the Big Ten. The redshirt junior completed a 50 yard, a 52-yard, and a 53-yard field goal. He became the second Hoosier to record three 50-yarders in a single season and the second with two 50-yarders in one game.
Campbell is gearing up to continue to break more of Indiana’s records and lead the Big Ten again next season.
3. Charlie Kuhbander, Northwestern
Northwestern’s Charlie Kuhbander is entering his last season as the Wildcats kicker after holding the job since his true freshman year in 2017. In his long career, Kuhbander has missed two of his 117 extra-point attempts.
In 2020, Kuhbander connected on all 27 of his PATs and went 9 of 12 on field goals. His field goal grade of 78.9 ranked third in the Big Ten. The graduate student completed his only 20-yard attempt and both of his 30-yarders.
Kuhbander led the Big Ten and tied for second in the Power Five in 40-yard attempts (9). He made a career-long 46-yard field goal against Purdue, then set a new personal record with a 47-yarder in the Big Ten Championship game against Ohio State.
Kuhbander is one of the most experienced kickers in the Big Ten and will continue to be someone head coach Pat Fitzgerald can rely on in big moments.
4. Matt Coghlin, Michigan State
Matt Coghlin is one of the greatest Michigan State kickers of all time. He is among the Spartans’ all-time leaders in PAT career percentage (107-of-107), field goal percentage (75.3), and scoring (305 points). Coghlin also holds records for field goals and PATs attempted, and field goals and PATs made.
Coghlin set a school and conference record for 18 straight field goals from his freshman and sophomore year, which ranks him fourth in the Big Ten.
The All-Big Ten honorable mention connected with nine of his 12 field goal attempts in 2020, bring his career field goal attempts to 64 of 85. He made all three of his 20-yarder attempts and the lone 30-yarder.
Coglin went 4 of 7 on his 40-yarder attempts. He completed his only field goal attempt and first field goal over 50 yards, setting a career-long of 51-yards.
The fifth-year senior aims to break more Michigan State and some Big Ten records, at least the ones he doesn’t already hold.
5. Valentino Ambrosio, Rutgers
Rutgers kicker Valentino Ambrosio was a high school kicker in New Jersey before playing two years of college soccer, including one season at Rutgers. He had a promising and successful first season back and will be a player to watch in 2021.
Ambrosio completed 15 of his 16 PATs and connected with nine of his 11 field goal attempts. He nailed all three of his 20-yarders and went three of four from 30 and 40 yards.
The 2020 Academic All-Big Ten selection earned his highest PFF field goal grade of 73 against Maryland when he kicked a game-winning 42-yard field goal in overtime. His overall field goal grade tied for No. 8 in the Big Ten, not bad for a newbie.
With a story and a leg like his, Ambrosio will be one of the most fun kickers to watch in 2021.