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August 14, 2007

Teggart kick-starts his college career

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Freshman Dave Teggart wasn't nervous when he stepped out on the field at Westborough during last season's Thanksgiving Day game. With a potential 52-yard field goal in front of him, the kicker was instead calm and relaxed, focused on tacking three more points on the board for Algonquin Regional.

It would have been the longest field goal of his high school career, shattering the mark of 47 yards he made twice during his junior year and once previously.

"I was feeling good about it, but the holder dropped the ball and I didn't get a chance," Teggart said. "I had to pick it up and run with it."

It took nearly a year for Teggart to get another solid opportunity at a 50-yarder, squaring up for a 54-yard attempt during Saturday's open practice at Memorial Stadium. Unlike last season, punter Desi Cullen held onto the ball, allowing Teggart to split the uprights and notch the personal record.

Sure, it didn't count for anything more than a mental note to the coaching staff. But in a time when the Huskies will be looking for a new kicker, it may have spoke volumes to what Teggart can do.

From the moment Teggart committed to the Huskies on June 29, 2006, he had been, in some circles, considered the savior at the position. He had just come off a spectacular junior season where he made 5-of-6 field goals, including the pair of 47-yarders, and all 17 of his extra point tries. He would nearly duplicate that success his senior season, finishing 7-of-9 with another 17 conversions on extra points.

Overall, the three-year starter would finish his high school career 18-for-24 from the field - he went 6-for-9 his freshman season - and made an impressive 50-of-51 extra points.

That success would help erase the memory of four-year starting kicker Matt Nuzie, who graduated in the spring. Nuzie had varying levels of success at the position, securing a nomination as a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award in 2004 but making just 4-of-10 field goals last season, including two misses from within 30 yards.

Teggart said he doesn't mind the pressure that may be placed on him, even with the watchful eye of 40,000 fans at Rentschler Field crossing their fingers every time Nuzie paced out his strides last season.

"I think that's what I thrive on, coming in for the game-winning kick," Teggart said. "That's what it's all about."

Although the 6-foot, 205-pounder has been impressive in terms of distance, head coach Randy Edsall said it's the consistency that will lock up the starting job. Through the first week of practice, Edsall said junior Tony Ciaravino had taken the lead, with Teggart and Cullen just behind.

"With that job and with that battle, it's going to be who can show us the most consistency between now and the end of camp," Edsall said. "There's more than just putting it through the uprights."

The consistency burned the team last season, with the Huskies converting back-to-back field goal attempts just once during the year. The kicking unit also missed all three field goal attempts against Army Oct. 14 while opponents netted 17-of-20 attempts.

Edsall had kind works for Teggart just a week into the team's fall camp, citing his athletic background as a reason he knows how to play. Teggart, who also played baseball at Algonquin Regional, finished his junior year with a .468 batting average and this season batting .508 with four home runs - all of which were hit in a single game.

"We've had some consistency problems in the kicking game, and we're looking for somebody who can be consistent," Edsall said. "It's very difficult for freshmen to come in and be able to contribute, and if he's the guy that wins the job, we're going to be very confident that he's the guy that can give us the kind of consistency that we're looking for."

Teggart himself has set up some lofty goals for his time at UConn, aiming to set the school kicking records by the time he graduates. But right now, his focus is on starting for the Huskies and putting the ball through the uprights, a place it hasn't been much in recent seasons.

"I think I can help this team," he said. "I'm excited to just go out there and show them what I can do and hopefully things will work out and I can help the team in the fall."

Zac Boyer covers UConn sports for Rivals.com. He can be reached at zacboyer@gmail.com.


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