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Friday, March 28, 2014
Clemson kicker an early spring surprise

By Heather Dinich

Less than halfway through spring practices, Clemson might have already solved one of its biggest -- and yet most overshadowed -- concerns of the offseason.

Lost in the shuffle of having to compensate for the early departures of receivers Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant, not to mention the graduation of quarterback Tajh Boyd and leading rusher Roderick McDowell, is the fact that record-setting kicker Chandler Catanzaro is also gone.

The offensive holes? No problem for coach Dabo Swinney. He’s said repeatedly there’s still plenty of talent on the roster.

The kicker?

“We just lost one of the best kickers in the history of the school, maybe the best in Catanzaro,” Swinney said before spring practices started. “That right there is the question.”

Ammon Lakip has booted an answer right to him.

Through the first five spring practices, Lakip missed just one kick, and that was from 53 yards. He then rallied and made the next attempt. Following the last practice before spring break, Swinney said Lakip “has been outstanding.”

"We all know how critical that position is,” Swinney said. “If I had to call out a bright spot so far, it would be Ammon."

As the backup to Catanzaro each of the past two seasons, Lakip’s game experience is obviously limited, but he had one of the program’s best kickers to learn from.

Catanzaro graduated after setting 10 school records, and he made 39 of his last 41 field goals over his last three years -- many of which came in the clutch. He left Clemson as its career leader in scoring and the leader in field goals of at least 40 yards with 23.

Lakip scored nine points last season, and was 6-of-6 on extra points and 1-of-2 on field goals.

This spring, he has already given the Tigers reason to believe he ready for the full-time job.