July 26, 2006

8 Days until Football: Bryant Hahnfeldt

As the Vanderbilt football program approaches the first day of fall practice, set for August 4th, VandySports.com has begun a countdown in anticipation of the 2006 season. Every day from today until the first day of fall practice, VandySports.com will bring to you a player profile corresponding to the players number for the amount of days remaining. The profiles will include the players recruitment to Vanderbilt, their Vanderbilt career so far, and where they project for the squad this season.




Today's Player:

Bryant Hahnfeldt- Sophomore (two years), kicker and punter.


How he came to Vanderbilt:

Bryant Hahnfeldt was a three year starting kicker for Nashville powerhouse Montgomery Bell Academy. Handling placekicking, kickoff, and punting duties for the Big Red, Hahnfeldt was the Mr.Football Kicker Award winner in 2004 as the state's best kicker.

In 2004, Hahnfeldt coverted 17 of 22 field goal attempts, with three conversions coming from 47 yards or more, and was 23 of 24 in extra points. Hahnfeldt also had 95 percent of his kickoffs reach the opponents end zone for touchbacks, while also averaging 39.6 yards per punt.

As part of MBA, Hahnfeldt enjoyed a couple of Division II state championships and was in the playoffs throughout his career.

Hahnfeldt chose Vanderbilt over a scholarship offer from Eastern Kentucky and was also invited to walk-on at Tennessee and Alabama. Had more schools had offers to give to a kicker/punter, Hahnfeldt would've likely had more offers.


His career at Vanderbilt so far:

Originally when Hahnfeldt signed with the Commodores, it was believed he would come to the squad in January of 2006 as a "greyshirt". However, a spot opened up and the Vanderbilt coaches knew that they needed to address their kicker and punter situations, so Hahnfeldt enrolled in the fall and began competing for all three kicking jobs in the 2005 preseason practices.

Almost from day one in practice, Hahnfeldt showed that it was a brilliant move getting him to campus earlier than expected. Hahnfeldt was successful on almost each field goal attempt during the practice sessions, boomed kickoffs into the practice field endzones, and had some high punts as well.

Winning the kicking duties during the fall practice and making a strong case for punting duties, Hahnfeldt went into the opening game against Wake Forest as one of only two true freshmen to play for the Commodores. And like the other true freshmen Earl Bennett, Hahnfeldt didn't disappoint.

Hahnfeldt scored Vanderbilt's first points of the 2005 season against the Demon Deacons on a 34 yard field goal right down the middle. More importantly, Hahnfeldt would convert on each of his first four extra-point conversions against Wake Forest, which was something the team struggled with in 2004.

In the next game against the Arkansas Razorbacks, Hahnfeldt would knock in two field goals inside 30 yards, and would also hit a 43 yard field goal to tie the game late, but the Arkansas coach would call a timeout right before the ball was snapped, negating the points.

Hahnfeldt would miss the re-try, but again, would kick in the extra point when the Commodores scored the go ahead touchdown, ensuring that the Razorbacks had to try for six points...which they were denied, and Vanderbilt had their first SEC road victory since 2000.

In the next game against Ole Miss, Hahnfeldt would be rushed into punting duties midway through the contest and also would suffer his first block on his second field goal try of the day. In a trend that would sometimes haunt the 'Dores, a Ole Miss defender came unblocked from the line and knocked down Hahnfeldt's kick with relative ease. Earlier in the contest, Hahnfeldt had hit his then career long, 37 yard field goal.

That career long only lasted a week however, when Hahnfeldt connected on a 43 yard kick against the Richmond Spiders. Hahnfeldt would suffer his only miss on a extra point during the 2005 season against the Spiders however, but was also successful on his four other tries.

Against MTSU, Hahnfeldt would connect on his first three field goal tries, including a 42 yarder.

However, once again, a unblocked defender would come through the line and block the Commodores game winning try late in the contest, giving Vanderbilt their first loss of the season. The kick was only from 36 yards out and it was very well likely had the Blue Raider defender not came unblocked, that Hahnfeldt would've been successful as he had been 4-for-5 on field goal attempts from 37 yards out or better during the year.

In the Commodores first try the following week against nationally ranked LSU, Hahnfeldt would kick from the exact same yardage against the Tigers in the first quarter. The kick from 36 yards out and at about the exact same spot as the week before, went right down the middle. Hahnfeldt would also connect on a new career long of 48 yards against the Tigers.

In the following games of the season against Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, and Tennessee, Hahnfeldt was only 2-of-4 on field goal tries, but both misses again came from blocks when unblocked defenders would come through the Commodore line. One block unfornuately was returned for a touchdown in the Commodores home final loss against Kentucky.

Though Hahnfeldt didn't get many field goal attempts in those four games, he was 17-for-17 on extra point tries in those four contests. Hahnfeldt's season would come to a sudden end in Vanderbilt's win at Tennessee, when he suffered a knee injury on a Vols punt return.

Overall, Hahnfeldt would score 68 total points, was 12 of 17 on field goal attempts (with four misses coming from blocks), and was 32 of 33 on extra point attempts. Hahnfeldt was named All-SEC Freshmen by the SEC coaches and was All-SEC as a punter. Also receiving Freshmen All-American honorable mention honors, Hahnfeldt was the team's Special Teams Player of the Year.

His point total was the fourth highest ever by a Commodore kicker, joining some very well respected company. As a punter, Hahnfeldt averaged 41.1 yards per punt a game and had 33 percent of his punts land inside the opponents 20-yard line. As a kickoff specialist, Hahnfeldt knocked 36 percent of his kicks in the end zone for touchbacks.

Hahnfeldt also contributed five solo tackles on special teams.


His projection on the 2006 season:

There are still some concerns by some about the injury Hahnfeldt suffered against Tennessee. Missing the 2006 spring practice sessions, Hahnfeldt had surgery on the knee and has been conditioning ever since.

Recently, Hahnfeldt began kicking again to build up his leg strength and is expecting to be 100 percent by the time the Commodores open the season against Michigan.

Hahnfeldt proved last season that he was the most reliable kicker the Commodores have had since a fellow MBA product John Markham was in the program. Calm, collected, and blessed with a pretty strong leg, Hahnfeldt is one of the more dependable kickers in the league.

If Hahnfeldt comes back and is like his 2005 form, chances are, he is going to win some games for Vanderbilt. And if the Commodores special teams unit can make sure they fix their problems with field goal blocking, Hahnfeldt might put up even better numbers than last season.

If the Commodore coaches have their way, Hahnfeldt can avoid handling punting duties this season if junior Kyle Keown or true freshmen Brett Upson emerge during fall practice.


Career Totals at Vanderbilt:

11 games, 11 starts at kicker, 7 starts at punter. 68 total points scored, 12-of-17 on field goal attempts, 33-of-34 on extra point conversions. 36 Punt attempts for 1,481 total tries, average of 41.1 yards per punt, three touchbacks, four fair catches, 12 inside opponents 20-yard line. 52 kickoffs for 3,275 yards, average of 63 yards per kick with 18 touchbacks, and four out of bounds.


Career Longs: 48 (Field goal kick), 55 (Punting).


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