Missouri kicker Andrew Baggett could not have predicted he'd be the star of the NFL Collegiate Bowl. After all, the event — which is held every January — attracts a host of the nation’s best college football players, all hoping to show their wares in front of league evaluators.
But that’s exactly what ended up happening. Baggett, a Lee's Summit North graduate, drilled six field goals — accounting for all of his team's points — in the National team's 18-17 win over the American squad on Jan. 23.
“I didn't even realize I'd kicked that many field goals,” Baggett said. “We all understood it's just like a senior bowl game, but we're all competitors, and if they weren't, I am. I just wanted to make sure we were all gonna win.”
Baggett, to be sure, did his part. But the four-year starter at Missouri also credits his time in college with helping him learn how to handle high-pressure situations.
“Something that kind of helped me out, that I thought helped heighten my level of play over the years, was realizing that every kick is the same,” Baggett said. “I want to kick every PAT just like every 50-yard field goal. Some guys have to start swinging harder and that's when you change mechanics and stuff. But I have always had a strong enough leg to keep it consistent.”
In 2015, Baggett made 16 of 20 field goals (with a long of 41 yards), and finished just eight points shy of Mizzou’s all-time scoring record in a career with 355 points. He had his share of adversity he had to overcome along the way, too, with the most notable being his 24-yard miss in a two-overtime loss to South Carolina in 2013.
“I think some people have defining moments, and some people think mine would be the South Carolina game,” Baggett said. “But if you can't get past the fact we still won the SEC East and went to the SEC Championship Game … I mean, that's not why we lost to Auburn (in that game). If you can't see that, it doesn't bother me because I don't think you paid enough attention to our season.”
Baggett has also made plenty of big kicks in his career, too. His 35-yard field goal against Tennessee delivered a 51-48 quadruple-overtime victory for Missouri in 2012 — on the road, no less — and he also made a big kick in a 2014 loss to Indiana. What's more, his extra point in the fourth quarter delivered a 21-20 road win against South Carolina in 2014.
Baggett ended his Missouri career 8-for-8 on field goals in bowl games and conference championship games.
“And that’s when you've got to have it,” Baggett said.
In retrospect, Baggett said he grew a ton after the South Carolina miss.
“Stepping back from it all, it was by far the biggest growing experience I could have ever had,” Baggett said. “And really, a big part of this at this level is your mindset. I missed that big kick and I came back. I had that experience. I think some people, they've never struggled, so when they get in that big game, they don't know how to say ‘I’ll worry about it tomorrow when I watch film, all that matters is watching the defense and getting ready for the next kick.’
“I'd never say I'm glad I missed it, but I'm thankful it all worked out how it did.”
Now, Baggett is looking forward to continuing his career. Over the past three months, Baggett says he's had personal workouts with two teams and has participated in third-party kicker camps and Missouri's pro day, where he says he's done well. He certainly hopes to get a shot at the next level, and he's also very proud of what he's already accomplished.
“It's amazing,” Baggett said. “Ive stopped and thought about it. If you would have told me halfway though high school that one day, I'd get to start at Mizzou, travel around the country and I'd be trying to train and go to the NFL, I would have never believed it. I didn't even know this was a dream.”
Inside the 2016 NFL Draft: special teamers
From Sunday, April 10, until the draft begins on April 28, The Star will take a daily look at each position.
Chiefs' needs: There is some uncertainty with both the kick- and punt-return jobs. Last year's primary kick returner, Knile Davis, is being shopped while last year's primary punt returner, De'Anthony Thomas, left the team toward the end of the year under bizarre circumstances. Both will return, as it currently stands, but the Chiefs need to add some insurance here. At kicker, the Chiefs seem happy with the progress Cairo Santos made in his second season, when he showed improved leg strength on kickoffs and converted 30 of 37 field-goal attempts. Punter Dustin Colquitt battled a knee injury toward the end of the season and had his right knee scoped in January, but trainer Rick Burkholder said he's “doing great.” Colquitt is among the league's best so there's no need at his position unless his recovery takes an unexpected turn.
Andrew Baggett, Missouri, 6-1, 215: Lee's Summit native who made 16 of 20 field goals and finished eight points shy of Missouri's all-time scoring record.
Matt Klingler, Lindenwood, 6-1, 235: Led Division II with a 44.4 yard punting average last year.