This season, Szmyt collected the Lou Groza Award as the nation’s best college football placekicker and also earned unanimous All-America accolades, making him one of nine in Syracuse history to achieve that honor.
It’s been a remarkable journey for Szmyt, a Falk College student who joined the Syracuse football team as a walk-on, redshirted his freshman year, battled his way into the starting lineup this fall and earned a scholarship six games into the season.
Heading into the Orange’s matchup with West Virginia in the Camping World Bowl in Orlando, Florida, on December 28, Szmyt had hit all 57 of his extra-point attempts and was leading the nation in field goals (28) and several other categories.
Here are some highlights of a recent conversation with Szmyt.
When did you realize you could really excel at kicking?
After training in the off-season, I came into fall camp and saw a huge improvement from last spring. I was motivated and wanted to stay consistent and keep doing what I was doing—just keep kicking, so I did.
How do you approach the mental aspect of kicking?
I go out there confident knowing I do this every day in practice and I’m going to drain this kick, whatever the distance may be. I know Coach Babers believes in me and I’m going to give it my best.
What have you enjoyed most about this season?
Being part of a winning team. The team is everything and I like being around all the guys. The season has been something special, and I’m glad to be a part of it and try to help in any way I can.
What are you looking forward to in Orlando?