We’re all already well aware of the Chicago Bears’ kicking issues, so I’m not going to bore you with a lengthy introduction retracing each of the team’s missteps since parting ways with Robbie Gould, let alone Cody Parkey’s game-ending double-doink (oh, look … I just reminded you). Instead, we’d like to use this opportunity to remind you that the Bears are *actively* pursuing alternatives for the pending kicking competition.
Eric Edholm of Pro Football Weekly reports the Bears have met with LSU kicker Cole Tracy at the Senior Bowl. Tracy’s road to college football’s premier all-star showcase is one that is less-traveled, but that doesn’t mean we should count him out. In fact, the way we see it, the Bears should leave no stone un-turned in their search for a new kicker. Even if that stone’s journey began at the Division II level.
Tracy’s college football career began at Assumption College in Worcester, Mass., where he made 87 of 117 kicks. That’s an 82.9 percent success rate for those of you keeping score at home. And Tracy’s success story continue in his lone season at LSU, when he connected on 29 of 33 attempts (87.9%) and knocked through a 53-yarder for good measure. Tracy’s season with the Tigers netted him some pretty neat accolades, including first-team All-SEC honors and earning a spot among the finalists for the Lou Groza Award (which is handed to college football’s best kickers). Not a bad résumé for a potential candidate who could come in and give the special teams (and offense) a jolt. So is this a challenge Tracy would be up to?
“Man, I’d love to kick there,” Tracy told Edholm, via PFW. “I’ve shown I can kick in all kinds of weather, all different conditions, big stadiums, small ones, ones with wind, whatever.”
Tracy told PFW he met with the Bears and expected to hear more from the team as the draft process moved along. And why wouldn’t he? GM Ryan Pace already told the world there’d be a kicking competition at Halas Hall in 2019, which means the team will need to search far and wide before unearthing some serious gems in the pre-draft process.
To be fair, it’s unheard of for kickers to do what Tracy is attempting … but it’s not impossible. Edholm brings up Super Bowl XLIX champion Stephen Hauschka as an example of a small-school kicker who booted his way onto the Division I scene, onto an NFL roster, and into an 11-year career that has featured an 86.4 percent success rate on field goals. Hauschka started his trek at Middlebury College before kicking his way onto North Carolina State’s team, and eventually into the pros. Difficult, sure. But impossible? Hardly.
And with that, the Bears’ search for a new kicker is officially under way.