CORAL GABLES, Fla. – There will almost certainly be a moment this season when Miami kicker Matt Bosher sprints toward an opposing returner, ready to deliver a jarring, high-speed tackle.
And in that moment, Hurricanes special teams coach Joe Pannunzio will be petrified.
"A couple years ago, we ran a fake punt against Florida State and I told him to just get the first down and then to get out of bounds," Pannunzio said. "Well, he didn't go out of bounds. I was screaming. I'm like, 'C'mon, man, don't do this to me.'"
Relax, coach. Bosher was fine.
He ran over Florida State linebacker Derek Nicholson on what became a nine-yard gain, became an instant legend on the Hurricanes' sideline and wound up as Miami's MVP that season. If anything, the senior who doubles as No. 13 Miami's punter is more valuable to the team now, and the Hurricanes expect big things this fall from their strong-legged kicker.
"There's a lot of bigger-sized guys who are getting into kicking earlier," Bosher said. "It has been a big transition, I think. You always think of the little guy on the sidelines as being the kicker. It's nice to see there's more athleticism attributed to kickers now."
He's 6 feet tall, 205 pounds, lifts weights like a lineman, tackles like a linebacker and scores more than a running back. If there was that he's-just-a-kicker mentality at Miami, Bosher has smashed through that perception with ease.
"He's a football player," Pannunzio said.
Bosher scored 94 points as a sophomore for Miami, then added 92 more last season. No other kicker in major college football has made as many field goals over the past two seasons (32) as accurately as Bosher, who has connected on 88.9 percent of his tries since taking over the job for the Hurricanes.
And good luck finding anyone else at the top level of the college game who has the same kicking, punting and tackling numbers as Bosher over the past two years. On that front, he stands alone.
"He runs fakes, he makes tackles on kickoffs, he's tough," Pannunzio said. "That's why his teammates respect him."
Those aren't the only reasons why.
Bosher went 50-for-50 on point-after attempts last season, plus made his last 12 field-goal tries of the year. In the weight room, he's been known to inspire bigger players, even challenging them at times to keep up with his copious regimen. Not only does he have 16 career tackles, Bosher can bench press more than 325 pounds, squats nearly 500 pounds and is one of the best-conditioned Hurricanes.
On top of that, Bosher has twice been an All-Atlantic Coast Conference award recipient.
"If you look at Bosher, you would not think that the numbers he puts up in the weight room are true," Miami quarterback Jacory Harris said. "He might lift more than some of our linebackers. He might not be the fastest guy, but he always makes the tackle. Bosher's the man. I always mess with him. He's not just a kicker. He's the man."
On and off the field, people are taking notice.
Bosher is on the preseason watch list for the Lou Groza Award, presented annually to the nation's top placekicker. And earlier this week, he was one of 30 players selected as candidates for the Lowe's Senior CLASS award, which recognizes seniors who excel in the areas of community, classroom, character and competition.
Bosher might have a lighter workload this season. Miami coach Randy Shannon will use Bosher as a placekicker and punter again, but kickoff duties might be handed to someone else in an effort to keep the senior's leg fresh as possible.
Either way, Bosher knows he'll be busy. And when the time comes, if he can add to his tackle total, he'll jump at that chance as well.
"I love kicking field goals. I love the pressure of it," Bosher said. "I like kickoffs too. I'm a little slower than everybody else, but it's still fun running down the field with them. ... And like I've said, I've got a bunch of great guys in front of me, making sure I'm not getting creamed."