Second in a series on departing seniors with memorable moments or careers in the SEC.
One of the difficult things to know about those of us who are South Carolina fans -- and there are so many of them -- is why we are so quick to latch onto our kickers as fan favorites. Ryan Succop was one of the most beloved South Carolina players during his time in South Carolina, and Spencer Lanning also leaves as one of the more appreciated members of a team that just won its first SEC East championship.
Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the competition isn't that tough, given that South Carolina quarterbacks often disappear (or worse) at inopportune times and there were almost no high-caliber running backs between Derek Watson and Marcus Lattimore. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that, unless they miss a last-minute chip-shot, it's harder to blame kickers for a loss. Or maybe it has something to do that Succop was very good, and Lanning was as well.
In fact, Lanning did a good job both of punting and placekicking; Succop pretty much ceded the punting duties to Lanning in 2008. And when Succop was drafted with the last selection in 2009, Lanning took over the placekicking duties as well.
This year, Lanning had at least one punt of 50 or more yards in eight of South Carolina's 14 games. His accuracy on field goals slipped pretty dramatically, but much of that came from having 13 kicks from 40 or more yards in 2010, compared to five in 2009. Lanning still leaves South Carolina with the highest career field goal percentage in school history.
That's just one of the records Lanning holds. He holds the best career average for punts, the second-highest single-season scoring total in more than 100 years of South Carolina football and has the ninth-most career points in school history.
So maybe it's odd for one school to have so many kickers among the ranks of fan favorites. But acknowledging what Lanning did for South Carolina? There's nothing odd about it.