Bucs kicker Aguayo working to improve on rookie struggles
Bucs kicker Roberto Aguayo chalked up his disappointing rookie season to a "learning" experience and said he needs to become more of a pro both on and off the football field.
Aguayo’s struggles began almost as soon as the Bucs selected him in the second round from Florida State. He began the season 4 of 8 in field goal tries before connecting on nine of the next 10. Overall, Aguayo made only 71 percent of his field goal tries (22 of 31) with a long of only 43 yards.
"Definitely a big learning experience," Aguayo said of his rookie season. "I went through some tough times and I finished strong going into the middle and the end of the year, learning a lot along the way. And having a guys here like Bryan (Anger) and (long-snapper Andrew DePaola) helped me along the way and just having a good camaraderie with the team and I think that’s good to have when you’re a rookie and all of us rookies learning the same way and learning there’s going to be mistakes made, you’re going to have highs and lows but just to keep fighting through it. The coaches here, and everyone here is like a family and try to be here and get into this off-season and on to next year."
Aguayo went unopposed as a rookie. But coach Dirk Koetter made it clear he will have competition next season. The Bucs signed Liberty kicker John Lunsford, who was in 49ers camp last summer. Lunsford is Division I-AA's career leader with 12 field goals of 50 yards or longer, including three from 57 yards and a 60-yarder to force overtime against Richmond. He went 5-of-6 from 50 and longer as a junior in 2014 and made several I-AA All-America teams. However, Lunsford was inaccurate on shorter kicks, going 8-of-23 on kicks from 40 to 49 yards.
Interestingly, Aguayo said he needs to continue to mature off the field and become more of a pro.
"I think just becoming more of a pro, maturing and not just on the field but a lot of stuff you do off the field," Aguayo said. "Maybe watching film more or going to sleep more, all these things affect how you are on the field. So maturing in that aspect and becoming a pro and asking the right questions about to get better and be successful because it isn’t college anymore where you can get by, by just doing a little bit. These are the best of the best and you’ve always got to try a little bit more to get better."
The signing of Lunsford notwithstanding, it would be very surprising if the Bucs did not have a veteran place-kicker competing with Aguayo in training camp. And as Koetter has noted, the Bucs have no problem moving on from high draft picks. Last year, they waived tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins following his DUI arrest. Seferian-Jenkins was a second-round pick from Washington in 2014.