The Baylor Red Raiders have been blessed in recent years to have some incredibly talented kickers on their football team and ironically, both are international exchange students from Brazil.
First it was Henrique Ribeiro, who had an outstanding career for the Red Raiders and is now a sophomore kicker for the Chattanooga Mocs.
Now it's a likable fellow named Rafael Gaglianone who really stepped into the limelight a year ago and is poised for a banner senior season in which he's hopeful of breaking the state field goal record of 62 yards.
Gaglianone, pronounced just like it's spelled Gag-lia-no-ni, became Baylor's fulltime kicker a year ago after his buddy Ribeiro had moved on to play in college. He was exceptional accurate as he converted on 12 of 15 field goals, including a long of 51 yards. Five of those 12 makes were from 40 yards or longer.
He was true on 31 of 33 extra point attempts while 90 of his kickoffs went into the end zone or further and were not returned.
He's a stout six-footer who weighs around 230 pounds. He's plenty big enough to play other positions, but he's committed to being a great kicker and he has his eyes set on a Division I football scholarship for next fall.
There are a few high school kickers who can boom a kickoff into the end zone, but even fewer who do it on a regular basis. His ability as a field goal kicker really puts Baylor coach Phil Massey in a good spot as he can start thinking about points when his team reaches midfield.
Again, that's a luxury that very few high school football teams have.
"We've been blessed to have Rafael for two full seasons, but he's got an explosive leg. We've about quit working on our kickoff coverage because of him, but I like the idea of making the other team drive 80 yards for a touchdown," Massey said before practice earlier this week.
"I've never given much thought to the idea of getting points once we cross the 50, but he gives us that option. I can spend a lot of sleepless nights worrying about our kicking game, but again, Rafael takes a lot of that pressure off," Massey said.
Gaglianone spent much of the summer at camps around the country, including such places as LSU, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Ohio State and North Carolina State. He's already been offered a scholarship by N.C. State while LSU and Texas A&M are both highly interested in his services.
Massey allowed his budding star the chance to go home for a few weeks after the camps, so he could spend some time with his family before school started.
"Rafael has some pretty lofty goals for himself, including wanting to be 100 percent on extra points and touchbacks on kickoffs. He also wants the state field goal record, which is 62 yards. I hope he can get it, but I hope we don't have to settle for a bunch of field goals this fall," Massey laughed.
"Kickers can win or lose a lot of football games, but we're very confident in his ability He's gotten better since he got here as his hangtime has improved. And he also gets tremendous height on his kicks, which make them almost impossible to block.
"He's thrown himself into being the best that he can and he's really worked hard to do just that. He's trying to improve on an incredible talent that he's already been blessed with.
"Henrique was a big influence on his decision to play football as they don't have that game in Brazil, but he's been a great kid to have around. To have a solid kicker on your team is a real blessing and he's been a real plus for our football team," the coach concluded.
"It's good to be back in Chattanooga," the personable young man who calls Sao Paulo, Brazil home.
"I definitely want to play in college. Last year was my first varsity action in football and I love it. I just concentrate on kicking, but being at Baylor has been a nice environment for me.
"Henrique played on a soccer team in Brazil with my older brother and he was the one who encouraged me to try football. I wanted to try something new. It was a little slow at first, but I'm getting used to it.
"I've worked really hard in the offseason and my technique has gotten a whole lot better. I use my soccer background, but I've made a big commitment to my job as a kicker and I feel a whole lot better than I did last year.
"I want to be consistent on field goals and kickoffs and I definitely want a field goal longer than 60 yards. I made one from 64 in practice one time.
"I was a little bit homesick when I first got here, but I've developed a lot of friends and I have an older brother who lives in California. I only go home about twice a year, but I'm getting used to life here in the United States," Gaglianone concluded.
The Red Raiders are hoping to improve on last year's 8-4 record. They have a lot of returning players on offense and they have a kicker who can put points on the board in critical situations.
He's really made a name for himself in his short time on the Baylor campus, but the sky's the limit for this young man.
Baylor opens its 2013 football season on Friday with a game against Howard at Heywood Stadium.
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)