By LARRY VAUGHT
Chance Poore might have grown up a Clemson fan in South Carolina but he can’t wait to be part of the Kentucky football program.
Poore, the No.1 ranked kicker in the 2018 recruiting class, plans to sign with Kentucky when the early signing period begins Dec. 20th. The 6-3, 200-pound Poore is a talented athlete capable of being a placekicker or punter in the Southeastern Conference but is likely being counted on as the replacement for kicker Austin MacGinnis.
How good is he? Well, he had 77 career touchbacks and averaged about 60 yards per kickoff and 44 yards per punt — with six inside the 20-yard line — this season. He’s hit a 48-yard field goal in a game but regularly connected from up to 55 yards in warmups.
Chance Poore knew Kentucky “was a big basketball school” when special teams coach Dean Hood started recruiting him.
“I knew they had a good football team and had some good conference wins. I had seen some game-winning kicks from Austin but I had never really looked into going to Kentucky. But I really wanted to either stay in state or get away for a new start, new resume.”
Poore’s father, Louis, says his whole family has been Clemson fans for years.
“We are 15 minutes from Clemson. Chance was a fan since he was 5 years old and dreamed of playing there,” Louis Poore said. “But Kentucky jumped all over him. We always thought Chance might play at Clemson but they had their reasons for not looking at him I guess. We are over that and glad he he chose Kentucky. We really liked the school, too, and know this is a big jump for him.”
Chance Poore came to two games — Florida and Louisville — this season. The kicker was “amazed” at the fan atmosphere for the Florida game, including the music played in Kroger Field.
“I come from a background where you always do the same, simple things. But on kickoffs they never had the same music, and that was pretty entertaining to me. They even had a rapper one time,” Chance Poore said. “It was very different, but I really liked it. And the team entrance (before the start of the game) through that smoke is really cool. I loved seeing the whole kickoff team dancing. All the hype was really good.”
He’s had plenty of hype about his kicking ability but isn’t worried about whether he punts, kicks off or kicks field goals and extra points. He says whatever the coaching staff wants is fine with him.
“I am going to be there to contribute. I can only do my job and whatever that job is, that’s what I will do,” he said.
He knows following MacGinnis will be no easy task. Poore says MacGinnis’ technique was amazing to watch along with his ability to make kicks under pressure.
“He was one of the best kickers in the SEC, but he’s very different from me,” Poore said. “I really respect what he has done. He’s not a big guy, but he has a big leg. He was so good at crunch time. I will be just looking to fill a role, not replace Austin MacGinnis. He set records and of course I hope I can break them.”
Poore is a bigger, stronger athlete than MacGinnis. He played soccer from age 5 through high sophomore year of high school. He played tight end and linebacker in middle school before becoming a full-time kicker in high school because his coach thought kicking was his ticket to a Division I scholarship — and the coach was right. Poore listened to his coach’s advice and appreciates now having made the switch to give hm time to develop into the kicker/punter he is now.
“I would not be as good today if I had not made the switch then,” he said. “He gave me a starting role and it was kind of rough as a 14-year-old freshman going against grown men at times. But I got more accurate, got better. I think I became a reliable weapon for my team and that’s what I want to do at Kentucky.”
He enjoys placekicking but says he might be a more natural punter because of his size. He regularly had a 4.6-second hang time on punts.
“I really can’t tell you which one I do best,” he said. “If the punting job is there, I could fill that role. But with Austin being gone, I know we need a placekicker. But I’ll do whatever and hope maybe I can contribute in two or three ways.”
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