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Cimaglia Reflects On Off-Season Work of Kicking In a Ditch, Recent 60-Yard Field Goal in Neyland, and More

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Brent Cimaglia enters 2020 on the Lou Groza Award watchlist following a season where he went 23 of 27 on field-goal attempts and a perfect 35 of 35 on extra-point attempts.

Cimaglia was available to reporters today via a Zoom call, and his expectations are high heading into this season.

He was asked about the special teams unit as a whole: “I think overall the specialist unit, it’s going to be a good year for us. We have Paxton Brooks returning – he’s a great punter and kick off specialist. We have Joe (Doyle) who brings a good morale to the group. We also have Brett Graham that transferred in, and he’s a good character to have. It’s going to be very competitive in each position, even with long snappers. We’re all kind of an older bunch, but with the long snappers, there are a bunch of young guys stepping in, and I’m very confident that they’re going to get their job done. I’m excited to see what this unit holds for us.”

Cimaglia is coming off a season where he hit multiple 50 plus yard field goals, but he could expand on that range even more.

Cimaglia said today, "I tell Coach (Jeremy) Pruitt every game day, ‘ ‘Cross the 50 and I’m good.’ I want to attempt it. For me, each year, I want to improve on something in distance and accuracy and being very consistent is one of them. I’m very confident in the field goal unit from snap to hold, that we’ll get it down and wherever we attempt it, we’ll make it. I did hit one from 60 at Neyland last week.”

For reference, the longest field goal made last season was a 62-yarder, and the NCAA record is a 69-yarder.

With that range, and no field to work on during the COVID-19 Shutdown, Cimaglia had to improvise. He said, "I didn’t have a field to kick on when I went back home. I was kicking, basically in a ditch in an open field, and I was kicking toward the light post. My dad helped me out a lot – he was out there every day I kicked. I also sent the film to Dan Orner a few days, just getting a recap of what I need help with. That time home and that time sitting in a ditch brought me back to my roots. It made football fun again. It’s honestly not about where you are, it’s doing what you love. Honestly, I had fun with it every day. In Florida, they have these big ditches. You couldn’t put a football field out there, but it was funny we went into Home Depot, and we bought a little handheld grass cutter. We cut little squares where I can kick the ball without getting too much grass. But yeah, a ditch.”

The lack of scrimmages is something that could affect Tennessee this fall, but Cimaglia does not seem to think he will be hindered by that. He said, "Scrimmages are nice for us because it gets us ready for what game-day scenarios will be like, but personally for me, I’m game day ready every day. I don’t go out there just to kick to kick. I go out there to be game ready. So the scrimmages are helpful, but practices are also helpful because they hone it what I’m doing in trying to prepare for South Carolina.”