NFL Draft Q&A: Arizona State kicker Zane Gonzalez
Our NFL Draft Q&A series continues with Arizona State kicker Zane Gonzalez, who won the Lou Groza Award as college football's top kicker and is expected to be picked in the upcoming draft, which of course brings questions about Bucs kicker Roberto Aguayo, drafted in the second round last year. Gonzalez got to college weighing 160 pounds and left with several NCAA records, including his 96 career field goals. He went 7-of-9 on kicks 50 yards and longer this past season, and took time to talk a few minutes about how he's getting ready for the draft. ...
Q: How has it been for you since the end of your season, getting ready for combine and pro day and the draft?
A: "It's been a busy process, but a good one at that. I've been working here at the school, and Senior Bowl came around fast. It's been flying by. It's crazy that the combine already happened, and now my pro day is Thursday. It's wild how fast it goes."
Q: So many players like Senior Bowl for how they can showcase themselves against other draft prospects. It's different for a kicker, but how was the interaction with NFL teams?
A: 'The interaction with coaches, getting to sit down with the scouts and have personal interviews, that goes a long way toward what the teams are looking for. It's a chance to show what you can do for whatever team is going to pick you -- going out and being consistent, showing how you are in practice can say a lot about your character."
Q: How well-prepared were you for the interview aspect of the combine?
A: "Very well prepared. Going to the Senior Bowl was like a warmup for that. The kids that didn't go to Senior Bowl but went to combine never had that experience, meeting the team. Once I got to combine, I felt I was pretty warmed up to it and comfortable with the whole situation."
Q: Does the NFL moving touchbacks out to the 25 last year change your value at all as a kicker?
A: "It all comes down to how big a leg you have. That will make you more diverse and able to do more pooch kicks, skying the ball, mortars, or you can kick it deep."
Q: Do you know what you'll do as part of your pro day on Thursday? It's different compared to most position players ...
A: "I'm not really sure how the whole process works. Obviously I'll do kickoffs, field goals, etc., but I won't do any 40s or bench press or any of that stuff. It's a day of kicking, so for me, I look at it as another day practicing. You can't overthink it."
Q: What are you at in terms of height and weight? I read you were 160 pounds when you got to college.
A: "At the combine I weighed 202 and 6 foot and a half inch, so like 6-1. I came in (to ASU) really lightweight, had never worked out in my life. Started working out hard. Coach Griz (Shawn Griswold) put me in the weight room, got me on protein shakes. I gained weight, but good weight, muscle I'd never had before. I feel like it's helped me get to where I am right now."
Q: When you watch NFL kickers, is there one you like the most or enjoy watching most?
A: "A lot of kids probably have the same person right now, (Ravens kicker) Justin Tucker. I enjoy watching him. His confidence, what he did last year was incredible."
Q: Which NFL teams have you had the most contact with?
A: "I met with all 32 at the combine. Cincinnati, the Browns, Vikings, the Bears a little bit, Bills a little bit. Those are the ones more specifically. ... You just need one of the 32 NFL coaches to fall in love with you."
Q: Here in Tampa, the Bucs took Roberto Aguayo in the second round last year. For you, I'm sure it's great to see any kicker drafted high, but he also disappointed in his consistency over the course of his rookie season. Does that help you as a hopeful draft pick?
A: "I watched -- he started the season a little slow but finished pretty strong. To see a kicker drafted that high is pretty awesome. It's a reminder you still can be. I haven't thought too much in terms of his situation. We go to the same kicking guy, Jamie Kohl, but we've never crossed paths."
Q: The higher you're drafted, the higher the expectations. Is there ever a point where it's higher than you'd want?
A: "I feel like any player would be happy getting drafted higher. I don't think that's too much of an issue or too much pressure, so I'm accepting to that. It's different in the NFL because you're playing with grown men, but it all comes down to kicking a ball."
Q: Do you have any workouts lined up before your pro day Thursday?
A: "I actually have the Vikings and Browns coming to work me out Monday. I'll probably have more workouts after my pro day."
Q: Do you have your degree from ASU yet?
A: "I'm taking one online class now, then I will. Communications, with a minor in business."
Q: We ask everybody for food recommendations. If I'm at Arizona State, what's your favorite place to eat?
A: "Oregano's. Really delicious Italian spot. They've got a dish called the Big Rig. It's pasta. It's to die for."
Check out our other NFL Draft Q&As: Baylor quarterback Seth Russell, Ole Miss receiver Quincy Adeboyejo, Nebraska receiver Jordan Westerkamp, Simon Fraser linebacker Jordan Herdman, Southern Miss center Cameron Tom, Kansas State defensive end Jordan Willis, Texas A&M tackle Avery Gennesy, Florida State defensive end DeMarcus Walker, Miami tight end David Njoku, Connecticut safety Obi Melifonwu, Arkansas defensive lineman Jeremiah Ledbetter, Miami cornerback Corn Elder, Oklahoma State defensive tackle Vincent Taylor, Stanford safety Dallas Lloyd, West Virginia cornerback Rasul Douglas, Florida tackle David Sharpe, Mississippi State WR/RB Brandon Holloway, Minnesota cornerback Jalen Myrick, Oklahoma State tackle Victor Salako, N.C. State center Joe Scelfo, Army linebacker Andrew King, Louisana Tech receiver Trent Taylor, Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara, USC defensive tackle Stevie Tu'ikolovatu and Saint Francis safety Lorenzo Jerome.