When starting Kansas University kicker Scott Webb graduated last year, he left some pretty big shoes to fill.
Good thing three new players are ready for the job.
Jacob Branstetter and Stephen Hoge, both red-shirt freshmen, and Grady Fowler, a junior-college transfer from Butler Community College, are battling for the starting kicker spot.
"We have competition for (kicker)," coach Mark Mangino said. "All of them do something very, very well, and all of them have areas that they have to work on. But at the end of the day, I think we're going to be OK. I think we might have more than one really good kicker at the end of the day."
Mangino declined to give any hints about which he would send out onto the field.
"There's a lot of encouraging signs from that group, but we're letting that play out," he said. "It's a three-way race."
According to special-teams coordinator Louie Matsakis, that race is too close to call.
Even the players can't tell who's leading the way.
"We're all kicking really well at the moment," Branstetter said. "I mean, I don't look at numbers, and I don't pay attention to that, but we're really accurate right now. I really couldn't tell you who's doing better. (The competition) is going to play out really nice here over the next couple weeks."
Although Branstetter, Hoge and Fowler are striving for the same thing, the three have remained close friends.
"I think there's a good separation between the playing field and in the dorms, playing cards, watching movies, whatever we're doing," Branstetter said. "We all have a good understanding that when we're on the practice field, there's no hard feelings between anybody, no offense taken to anything. We kick the ball as best as we possibly can individually."
And none of the three potential kickers is afraid of a little competition.
"It's been a lot of fun," Hoge said. "You come to a D-1 school like Kansas and you know you're going to have to compete. That's what the sport is all about."
Added Fowler: "We've got three good kickers competing for the job right now. What more could you ask for? We're set."
Matsakis said he recognizes the difficulty of introducing a new starter, but he, like his players, is up for the challenge.
"I think anytime you lose a kid who's done it for four years there will be a little drop-off," he said. "It's just a matter of trying to get them sped up quicker. I think we'll be good. As long as they get better and just keep improving every day, I think we'll be great."
Whoever ends up in the starting spot, the players are simply eager for the chance to play.
"I look forward to the opportunity for one of us to get in there and show what we can do," Branstetter said. " I think if we just stay true to our technique and the things that Scott taught us, we can do as well as Scott did and carry on the legacy of great kickers at Kansas."