SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) - The Utes have had some strong kickers over the years, from Louie Sakoda to Andy Phillips. But this season, Matt Gay has come out of nowhere to become an unsung hero on this team.
Gay wasn't even the Utes starter in the season opener against North Dakota. But when Chayden Johnston missed his first field goal attempt, Kyle Whittingham turned to Matt Gay and he hasn't missed since. Gay has made all 7 field goal attempts and all 5 extra points.
"Through practice, he and Chayden Johnston waged a very competitive battle for that starting kicking job," Whittingham said. "Chayden just edged him out a little bit. That's why he got the first kick of the season. Then when he didn't put it through the uprights, in fairness to Matt, we gave him a shot and he's been perfect."
"Obviously I like to help my team in any way I can," Gay said. "So, if they call my name and call my number, then I'm going to go out there and do what I'm here to do."
The past week's game at BYU was extra special, seeing how Gay grew up just a few minutes from LaVell Edwards Stadium.
"This is a game that's close to home," said Gay, and Orem High graduate. "I live ten minutes down the street. I grew up with all my friends cheering for BYU, so I definitely wanted to come out here and prove a point."
He proved an extra point on Saturday. After playing two seasons of soccer at Utah Valley, Gay tried to walk on at BYU, but the Cougars didn't want him."
"I got a tryout this summer and kicked for them," Gay said. "Basically, the discussion was they liked me and they wanted me, but there was nothing they could do for me. So, the decision was to move on and move forward with their other kicker."
While Gay made all four field goal attempts against BYU, that other kicker, Rhett Almond, missed his only attempt for the Cougars. So how has a guy that kicked for just one season in high school been so successful with the Utes?
"He has proved to be very cool under pressure," Whittingham said. "Nothing seems to bother him, which is a great trait in a kicker."
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