New Mexico kicker named All-AmericanBy Adrian Doerfler Daily Lobo
December 10, 2007
Albuquerque, NM (CSTV U-WIRE) -- UNM senior kicker John Sullivan wrapped up his stellar season by earning first-team Walter Camp Football Foundation All-America honors.
Sullivan is just the second player named to the first team and invited to the ESPNU College Football Awards Show. Brian Urlacher attended in 1999 when he was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation's top defensive back. Cornerback Brandon Payne was named to the second team in 2004.
Sullivan started the year on a rough note when the Lobos opened against UTEP, missing two field goals in a four-point loss.
Since that game, though, he went 24-of-25.
Sullivan made a school-record 18 straight field goals, the second-longest streak in the nation this year.
Sullivan said he put everything behind him after that first game and has stayed focused on making field goals.
"When I made that first field goal the next game against New Mexico State, it made me think, 'I could do this,' and I got a little more confidence," he said. "After that, my confidence just kept building and building."
Head coach Rocky Long said the kicking job was up in the air heading into the season, but Sullivan separated himself from his teammates when it mattered.
"We had three or four guys competing all the way up to the first game, and he won the competition," Long said. "He was the best kicker in camp, and he's been a great kicker all season."
Sullivan came to UNM after one year at San Jose State and was a four-year walk on until he was placed on scholarship in August.
Four months earlier, he tore his ACL in his left leg during a kickoff drill in spring practice but has continued to play with the injury.
The Lobos have a long break before the New Mexico Bowl on Dec. 22, but Sullivan said he is feeling good now that the team has started practice again.
"I felt kind of rusty, but it comes back pretty quickly," he said. "After about five kicks, I start to feel better."
Sullivan was also a first team all-Mountain West Conference selection. He has set school and conference records with 26 field goals made, and he is 9-9 from 40 to 49 yards.
The Lobos won four games in which one of his field goals was the deciding factor.
Sullivan was invited to Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., for the awards show and has been enjoying every second of his success, he siad.
"It's been amazing," he said. "I never thought this would come to me. It's been pretty remarkable meeting so many great people, and for my season to end this way is pretty nice."
(C) 2007 Daily Lobo via CSTV U-WIRE