The groans started after his first missed field goal back in April.
Fans that enjoy the University of Alabama thought the inconsistency, which came from Adam Griffith and Cade Foster, in the kicking game was over.
In seeing schools like LSU, Auburn and Florida in the Southeastern Conference stack up on quality specialists, one would believe head coach Nick Saban could land a solid kicker – especially with all the four and five stars recruited.
Whether it was a perplexing look on the face of fans or watching punter JK Scott nail multiple kicks in the spring game, Andy Pappanastos made it a mission to improve. During his number of interviews with the media, he talked about his love and fandom for Crimson Tide football.
A product of Montgomery, Ala., Pappanastos dreamed of emerging from the tunnel at Bryant-Denny Stadium. When he made his decision on Alabama as a senior in 2012, the Tide did not look toward him.
Instead it took Adam Griffith, who was thought to be the savior in that role, which caused Pappanastos to reset his path to Ole Miss.
Being one of five guys to accept a Special Teams Player of the Year award from Saban and his coaching staff at the team’s annual banquet on Sunday, became symbolic in terms of brining Pappanastos’ journey full circle.
To think he would be one of the most reliable players for this year’s squad is shocking, but “Papa Nasty” exceeded expectations through 12 games.
Under the coaching of Joe Pannunzio, Pappanastos made 15 of 19 field goals – 78.9 percent – including four kicks in excess of 40 yards or more. Before the start of the season, multiple rumors framed long distance kicks to not be in his comfort zone.
Possibilities of freshman Joseph Bulovas handling all kicking duties, coupled with the Tide thinking of having both a long and short-ranged specialist kept the position a topic a question throughout the summer.
His form was not perfect in Alabama’s season opener against Florida State, but Pappanastos came through with three of five made attempts – assisting a 24-7 win.
One of his clutch 40-yard field goals came versus LSU, in a matchup where he provided a much-needed score to lengthen the Tide’s lead to two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
With driving home a 40-yard attempt to start the period, Pappanastos gave Alabama a 24-10 advantage.
Even after missing an opportunity at Texas A&M, he responded with two made kicks – especially one coming from 44 yards away in the fourth quarter, to give Saban and company a 27-19 lead over the Aggies.
While Foster and Griffith improved their numbers each year, the lack of making pressure kicks in critical situations is what caused a lot of issues for fans.
As we reflect on his percentage, Pappanastos has had the best single-season performance under Saban since former Tide kicker Jeremy Shelley (2012, 100 percent).
His 78.9% in made field goals is seventh all-time in school history for a single season, moving him past Shelley’s output from 2011 – 77.8 percent.