Wildcats' Jack Cantele — kicking in his brother's shadow
By ARNE GREEN
Special to The Telegram
MANHATTAN — Jack Cantele has spent much of his career as a kicker studying at the side of his older brother.
He also had to follow in Anthony Cantele's footsteps twice — first at Wichita's Kapaun-Mt. Carmel High School and now at Kansas State — carrying on the family name.
It's not necessarily something he looked for, but neither has he shied away from it.
"I've been compared to Anthony as long as I can remember," said Jack, a sophomore, who this fall won the kicking job held by his brother the two previous season. "In high school he was the starting kicker for four years and I was following him up in high school my sophomore through senior years, so I'm used to it.
"We have a great relationship, so there's nothing to fear. It's fun for us."
In fact, working with Anthony was a pretty good apprenticeship for Cantele, allowing him to ease into the job.
"Fortunately I got to be behind him for two years," Cantele said. "So I didn't have to be forced in there before I was ready.
"I'm ready now and I got to see in him what it takes to be successful and hopefully I can duplicate what he did."
Cantele got off to a good start in last Saturday's 48-27 victory over Louisiana, drilling his first two career field goal attempts from 29 and 27 yards. He was true on all three extra points the week before when the Wildcats dropped their opener to North Dakota State.
"I thought it was good for Jack to be able to kick a couple of field goals and he did fine," Snyder said.
Cantele was just glad to get the chance.
"I've been waiting so long, I just couldn't wait to get out there," he said. "Really, I've kicked so many balls now, it just feels like practice up there.
"(But) you can't take it for granted, ever, even those short ones, because I watched my brother lose his job his first year here, missing the same exact kick I made the other day. Learning from him, I made sure I wasn't going to do that."
Anthony Cantele won the kicking job as a sophomore in 2010 and was perfect on a 35-yard field goal and four extra points in a season-opening victory over UCLA. But a week later he missed a 26-yard field goal and an extra point and never got another chance.
"Hopefully, keeping the nerves under control, that's the biggest part of kicking," Jack Cantele said.
Cantele learned to remain calm, not from watching his brother bounce back the next two years, but from his success in another sport.
"I've been a golfer my whole life, so keeping your wits and keeping your cool and not letting it get the best of you is something I've kind of had to learn on my own, and I have," he said.
Early in his high school career, Cantele saw golf as his ticket to a Division I scholarship. He had offers from a handful of Big 12 schools, but burned out on the game by his sophomore year and limited his golf to the high school team.
Unlike Anthony, who initially attended Missouri State for a semester as a soccer player, Jack gave that game up in grade school to concentrate on football. He almost became a kicker by default.
"I was always the only one in sixth or seventh grade that could do it and I didn't really take it seriously until my sophomore year in high school," he said. "I was always playing safety and wide receiver and never really gave it serious thought until I saw how well (Anthony) was doing.
"I heard he was getting scholarship offers in college to kick, and I was like, 'Well, I'm never going to be big enough to play at that level as a safety or wide receiver, so I might as well learn how to kick."
Cantele went to K-State as a preferred walk-on, but got word toward the end of preseason camp last month that he had earned a scholarship.
"I called my parents and they were excited for me," he said. "It happened so fast, but I couldn't have been more happy to hear the news."