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Spring Fling 2015: The Big Ten's Best Kickers

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The second most important position on the field... you know, behind punters.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

#CollegeKickers

This is a meme because let's be honest with ourselves, kicking can be pretty hard, especially when you're 18-22 and there are millions of people watching you. While the kicker doesn't get most of the glory and is more generally considered the goat, you've gotta hand it to those crazy kids. They're the ones teeing it up for the last second win, and you know the feeling when your team doesn't have a good one. The B1G has a long tradition of good kickers, but next year starts out looking a little thin. That said, here's my best guess for who will be the best of the best kickers going into 2015.

craddock

Photo Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

1. Brad Craddock (@BRADCRAD) - Maryland Terrapins

As a Junior last year, Craddock was 18/19 with his only miss coming against Rutgers from 54 yards out. Craddock was also automatic on extra points, and these two stats garnered him both the Big Ten kicker of the year award as well as got him a Lou Groza Trophy to add to the mantle. To say that Craddock is the best returning kicker in the Big Ten is kind of an understatement. Right now, it's sort of him and then everyone else a few notches lower.

Gaglianone

Photo credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

2. Rafael Gaglianone (@rafagaglianone) - Wisconsin Badgers

As a freshman last year, Gaglianone was definitely a revelation for the Badgers. While his FG% was only 86.4%, that was good enough for second best in the conference. His distance kicking was pretty good with numbers at 8/9 from 40-49 yards and 2/3 from 50+. Of course, the biggest weakness was two missed PATs, but those can be forgiven by his general awesomeness, and the clutch kick he made to beat Auburn.

Photo credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

3. Paul Griggs (@Paul_Griggs) - Purdue Boilermakers

Griggs is pretty much the polaroid for college kickers. He was 16/20 which gives him a fairly healthy and normal 80% average. Even more impressive is the fact that the 80% was an uptick all the way from 50% the previous year. He was also 3/3 on kicks of 50 yards or more with a long of 53. The bad? Well, he missed an extra point, which I hate to see, but considering who else is on this list - from a stats point of view at least, we can more or less forgive him for those PATs.

federico

Photo credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

4. Kyle Federico (Couldn't Find a Twitter Handle) - Rutgers Scarlet Knights

So this is where the kicking list kind of goes downhill. Federico was an okay kicker last year going 16/21. His long was only 45 yards, but he gets to be here on the list because his PAT% is actually a little higher than the next guy on the list... Sadly, that doesn't mean he was perfect on PATs. No, he missed two and it makes me a little sad. I'm sure there's a story like, "Come on Jesse, do you even WATCH the games? Totally not his fault." My reply to that? "YOUR KICKER MISSED TWO EXTRA POINTS!"

Photo Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

5. Jack Mitchell (Couldn't Find a Twitter Handle) - Northwestern Wildcats

Couple of things... Apparently Jack Mitchell plays baseball for the Wildcats AND kicks FGs, so that's something I learned today. Anyhow, from a stats perspective, it's almost a little weird to see him on here. He was only 14/18 last year and his long was 46 yards. That being said, that came in a 4/5 performance that helped Northwestern knock of Notre Dame, so bonus points? More weird than the so-so FG% is his PAT% which was 92.9% on two missed PATs. Again, how are we missing extra points? This is peak #CollegeKickers. Nonetheless, credit where credit is due I suppose. He's definitely the 5th best kicker in the league going into 2015.

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