Looking back on it, B.T. Potter admits he was nervous heading into the 2019 College Football Playoff as Clemson’s first-year starter at placekicker in his sophomore season, and the nerves perhaps showed when he missed his lone field goal attempt in the Fiesta Bowl semifinal victory over Ohio State, a 49-yarder on the Tigers’ opening possession of the game.
Though that kick didn’t go his way, Potter stepped up when his number was called in the national championship game against LSU, nailing a 52-yarder early in the second quarter in front of 76,885 fans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans and millions of others on national TV.
It ended up being his only field goal try in Clemson’s 42-25 loss.
“Going into the playoff last year, I was a little bit scared,” he said this spring. “I’ve kicked off in these big games, but I’ve never kicked field goals. So, when we got into the national championship, that was obviously the biggest stage I’ve ever kicked a field goal on. But it was crazy, and I really enjoyed it.”
Potter’s 52-yarder vs. LSU was the longest made field goal in College Football Playoff National Championship Game history, surpassing a 51-yarder by Georgia’s Rodrigo Blankenship against Alabama in the game to conclude the 2017 season.
The record-breaking kick provided Potter with something positive to build upon this offseason and gives him confidence as he gets ready for his junior campaign.
“The night before the game I was sitting in my room and I was like, I need to go out good with this last game,” Potter recalled. “I felt like I did good, and this past offseason I’ve been thinking about that, and it makes me believe that I can go up from here.”
Highly regarded for his big leg coming out of South Pointe High School in Rock Hill, S.C., Potter has consistently displayed his ability to boot the ball deep, recording 158 touchbacks on 214 career kickoffs and posting a 63.4-yard kickoff average in his first two seasons.
Potter is also 86-for-86 on PATs in 30 career games but was not as reliable as a field goal kicker last season, finishing with a 13-for-21 mark in his first season as Greg Huegel’s replacement. So naturally, Potter is focusing on becoming more dependable this upcoming season.
“Pretty much obviously inconsistency,” he said of what he is working on. “This offseason, breaking down my form, noticing little things like my toe being up and things like that. I’ve just been working on it all spring and doing pretty good.”
Potter certainly looked like an improved kicker during Clemson’s nine spring practices, during which he went 34-of-35 on field goals according to head coach Dabo Swinney.
“I mean, he’d win the (Lou) Groza (Award) with that,” Swinney said. “It’s amazing what type of nine days he had.”
For Potter, despite his up-and-down sophomore season, the 2020 football season can’t get here soon enough.
“Honestly, this offseason I missed it,” he said. “Even with the bad kicks I had last year sometimes, I miss the opportunity and getting out there. So, I’m just excited to get back at it.”
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