Only four weeks to go until Notre Dame, and today's roster number needs no introduction to Bulls fans.
#28 K Maikon Bonani
Redshirt Junior, 5'10", 187 lbs.
Stats In 2010: Bonani actually started the season as the backup to senior Eric Schwartz. But when Schwartz missed three of his first four field goals, Skip Holtz asked Bonani to kick a 33-yarder against Western Kentucky, which he banked in off the left upright. Schwartz missed another kick the next week against Florida Atlantic, and Holtz made the switch permanent. Bonani went on to have the best kicking season in USF history. Maikon made 17 of 21 field goals for an 81.0% success rate. Two of the four misses were from longer than 50 yards, and one was just after he had made a potential game-winning 52-yarder against Louisville that Charlie Strong nullified with a last-second timeout. (Bonani ended up making a 38-yarder in overtime to win the game.)
Current Position On Depth Chart: Bonani is listed as the starting kicker and barring injury, there's about a 100% chance he starts the season there.
How He Came To USF: Offering kickers scholarships might be the biggest crapshoot in recruiting. The kicking environment is dramatically different in college than in high school, and you never know how they'll react to narrower goal posts, narrower hash marks, and up to 100 times as many fans watching them play. There are plenty of cases of walk-on kickers taking over the starting job, like Schwartz did in 2009. And of course Mike Leach famously gave the job to Matt Williams, who won tuition by kicking a 30-yarder at a Texas Tech game and ended up being the Red Raiders' primary kicker for 2 1/2 years. But USF offered a scholarship to Bonani and he committed in October 2007. He was the Class 3A first-team kicker in 2006 and second-team kicker in 2007, and the Lakeland Ledger named him their 2007 Polk County Male Athlete of the Year. In addition to football, Maikon lettered in tennis and in soccer, where he was also named Polk County player of the year in 2007.
Projected Playing Time In 2011: Bonani will continue to handle field goals and extra points. He kicked the game-winner in his first collegiate appearance against Kansas in 2008, he's the most accurate kicker in USF history, and he only needs seven field goals to break Santiago Gramatica's career record. Ken and I have talked about this a lot and we can't remember ever feeling more comfortable with a kicker than we do with Bonani, even on longer kicks.
Bonani also handled kickoffs for most of last season, but he only had six touchbacks on 48 kickoffs -- and remember, college kickoffs are still from the 30-yard line, unlike the NFL. if someone like Marvin Kloss or whoever doesn't win the punting job can get touchbacks more consistently, Maikon may be freed up to just focus on placekicking.