So Long Seniors: AJ Principie

AJ Principie against UCF in 2009

Position: K
Hometown: Columbus, OH
High School: St. Francis De Sales

It's often said that the center is the most unappreciated position in football but for my money nobody has it as bad as kickers. The center has to have a monumentally bad game (missing snaps) to get singled out by fans but if he is only having a marginally bad day picking up a blitz or opening up holes then he is usually not singled out from the rest of the line.

Kickers, on the other hand, can have a marginally bad day (say 3 for 4) and those lost three points are always singled out. Who do you remember more Kevin Dyson or Scott Norwood? Dyson took a pass in the closing seconds of Super Bowl XXXIV, he cut the route a yard too short and as a result came inches from winning the Superbowl. Scott Norwood pushed a 47 field goal to the right and cost the Bills a Superbowl.

Now the real culprit in the Bills loss was Jeff Wright who just got blown off the line on run after Giant run, but I digress.

UB's special Teams have been all around awful for two years. Some of the frustration with things like Kick Coverage, poor punting, and mediocre returning have all gotten heaped, and rather unfairly , on the shoulders of AJ Principie. For the record I know that yours truly also has been overly quick to criticize AJ over the years but he is a kicker, they deserve it ;).

AJ converted 9-of-13 (Long of 44) field goal attempts his senior year at St. Francis De Sales. He was was also  perfect on extra points that year. His performance was enough to get him named All-State (Honorable Mention), first-team All-League, and a spot in the Central Ohio All-Star Game.

In 2007 Principe joined the Bulls as a walk-on. By the end of his first camp had both earned a scholarship and secured the starting Job. During his freshman year AJ would break the single season record for points by a kicker (one he would go on to break his sophomore year). His 15-of-20 field goals for the season, including nine straight at one point was paired up with connected on 32-of-34 PATs to make what UB Athletics refers to as "the finest freshman season by a kicker in UB’s history"

His best game was a heartbreaking loss to Syracuse in which his 12 points (field goals) was all the scoring the Bulls could mange. For that he was named MAC East Special Teams Player of the Week. His overall work on the season got him named Sporting News Freshman All-America Honorable Mention.

He struggled at the beginning of the 2008 season including a Kick which found the goalpost in the waining moments of a game against defending MAC champion Central Michigan. In the tradition of great kickers Pincipie put his early season struggles behind him and converted nine of his final 11 field goals on the season including a game-winning 34-yard field goal in overtime against Army.

2008 also feature game winning field goals against Akron, converted on side kicks against Bowling green and a perfect showing against UConn in the international bowl. Last season (2009) he was 10 of 13 on field goals and  33 of 36 extra points. He was named MAC East Division Special Teams Player of the Week after accounting for all nine points in UB's season ending 9-6 win over Kent.

This past season Principie suffered along with the rest of the offense. Going just seven for eleven on field goals. His best performance of the season was his 49 yard field goal against Ball State, the only points UB would get.

Among the UB Records he holds:

 

Categoty AJ Rank
Career Points 265 1
Field Goals 44 1
Extra Points 123 1
Season FG's 15 2
Season XP's 48 1
Season Points 84 5
Seaon Points K 84 1
Longest FG 47 10
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