The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

September 8, 2009

HERTZEL COLUMN - Bitancurt off to perfect start as WVU kicker

MORGANTOWN — There was a time, in the spring, when Tyler Bitancurt wasn’t sure about himself.

That is out of character for the freshman out of Springfield, Va., for when it comes to placekicking he is supremely confident in his abilities.

But being what he is, a redshirt freshman, and coming into camp in the wake of Pat McAfee, who was probably the best two-way kicker the school every produced, he had much to live up to.

Then just to complicate matters as he was about to enter camp, along came Josh Lider, a senior transfer from a good Western Washington program that had just dropped football, leaving him looking for a place to kick.

When WVU brought him in, it wasn’t exactly what you’d call a vote of confidence in Bitancurt.

“In a way I thought they might not have confidence in me,” he admitted late Saturday afternoon, having just put together what almost certainly is the greatest placekicking debut in the school’s history by hitting four field goals in four attempts. “But you can’t look at things like that as a negative. You have to take it as a positive. He gave me some competition. I can definitely say it made me better.”

Indeed, all through camp there was a battle royal among the placekickers, Lider vs. Bitancurt, senior vs. freshman.

Lider is no stiff. He had done well at Western Washington, but Bitancurt’s credentials out of high school were no less impressive. He had hit 15-of-20 field goals in his career with a long of 50 yards and had hit 107 of 108 extra points, including a streak of 70 in a row.

But that was high school and on Saturday on a pleasant, sunny afternoon, he had never really been in a situation quite like it.

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Bob Herzel
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