Lining things up isn’t always as easy as it looks for kickers.
Mark the spot of the kick, then three steps back, then two to the side. But it’s never an exact science.
If it were, Andy Pappanastos might not have started his college career at Ole Miss. The Alabama kicker grew up a fan of the Crimson Tide, but things didn’t line up there. So he signed with the Rebels in 2012.
“I was in the recruiting class with Adam Griffith and (Alabama) actually offered him pretty early,” he said. “So, I was like, ‘Well that’s kind of out of the equation now.’ Ole Miss came up and I really loved it there. The campus is great and the school was a really good fit for me as well. It worked out really well.”
It worked out so well that Pappanastos graduated from Ole Miss, then had eligibility left to transfer to Alabama for the 2016 season. He played in two games at Ole Miss and chipped in for Alabama last year.
UA recruited a high school kicker lined up to join the team this season, but Pappanastos won the job in fall camp. He’s gone 8-for-10 on field goal attempts this season, making his last six attempts. He’s also 19-for-19 on extra points.
“He’s done a good job,” coach Nick Saban said last week. “He’s especially done a good job in the area inside the 42-yard line, 42-yard field goals is kind of what our expectation is from him. So I think he’s done a really good job so far.”
The kicking game has come with some challenges for Alabama, which is also breaking in a new long snapper this season. Both of Pappanastos’ misses came in the season opener against Florida State. Some speculated after the game that the new turf at Mercedes-Benz Stadium was slippery, but he said neither of his misses were caused by that.
He’s been on target since then, making a name for himself. Pappanastos already has earned a nickname among teammates. Some players and coaches call him “Papa Nasty.”
“I like that one,” he said. “That one’s at least easy for people to get out, it’s on the tip of the tongue.”
Pappanastos won’t have to introduce himself to the Rebels this week. He still keeps in regular contact with their specialists. He was with Alabama last year when the Crimson Tide beat Ole Miss, but was a Rebel in 2014 and 2015, when Alabama lost back-to-back games in the series.
Those were odd moments for someone whose family once had season tickets to Bryant-Denny Stadium.
“That was pretty weird, it really was,” he said. “But when I was at Ole Miss, it was you bleed, you sweat for that team, so I mean I was obviously invested in what we had to do there. But it was always a little interesting playing Alabama, just because of my past as a kid.”
That past is part of Pappanastos’ story, but it’s not part of this week. He’s Alabama’s kicker now.
“I graduated there (from Ole Miss), had a great time there, still have a lot of great friends and I really respect the place and the program a lot,” Pappanastos said. “The opportunity to come here just kind of came up and it was something that I couldn’t really turn away, especially getting back to my home state. I grew up a big Alabama fan … It was always kind of a dream to be playing here and once that kind of came up it was a no-brainer.”
Reach Ben Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0196.