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Even Lane Kiffin Couldn’t Ice Tennessee Kicker Chase McGrath

The buzz around spring camp usually resides with the positions that are most in the spotlight. That would be the quarterbacks, the receivers, the linebackers, and so on. However, on Friday in Knoxville, Chase McGrath and the Tennessee specialists were front and center.

While speaking with the media after practice, McGrath talked about life as a specialist. While it’s by no means the flashiest of the position groups, nor do they have to deal with as much wear and tear, the specialists have created one of the most fun and unique groups on the team.

“Coming in here I didn’t know what to expect,” McGrath said on The Slice on Mar. 31. “What the dynamic would be with the specialist’s group. I’ve been a part of a lot of different dynamics. It was really like a seamless transition just because these guys have such a great relationship with each other.”

After transferring in from USC before Heupel’s first season in Knoxville, McGrath knocked through 12 of his 16 field goal attempts and scored the most points (102) of his collegiate career. McGrath could have left Tennessee after just one year on campus, but decided to return for his final season. And for him, the decision was fairly easy.

“Honestly, the main reason I came back, I would say is just how much fun I have playing here,” McGrath said on Friday morning. “Just with the staff, with the specialists, with the rest of my teammates, it’s a really enjoyable atmosphere to come and get your work in, come to practice every day. You never dread coming into the facility. It’s always a really good vibe and really positive. So, yeah, I just really enjoy coming in and working.”

Tennessee Football: Five-Star Receiver On Second Visit To Knoxville This Year

One of the standout moments of McGrath’s debut in Knoxville came against Ole Miss in Neyland Stadium. With two seconds remaining on the clock until halftime, Tennessee trailing 24-9, Heupel sent McGrath out to kick the 39-yard attempt. Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin would attempt to “ice” McGrath by calling not one, not two, but all three of the Rebels’ timeouts before the kick. Cool as the other side of the pillow, though, McGrath wasn’t phased and knocked the kick through the uprights with ease.

“I remember the Ole Miss game, Lane Kiffin iced me,” McGrath said on Friday. “Whenever they ice me I kind of laugh! I don’t know. It’s like I have more time just to lock in and visualize what’s about to happen.”

The aftermath of the kick was almost as dramatic as the lead-up to the kick, too.

“I remember all the Ole Miss players ran off like yelling at me,” McGrath said. “And I was kind of looking for Kiffin like, ‘What was that, dude? You didn’t get me.'”

Football spectators have been conditioned to believe that icing a kicker is a necessary strategy to throw a kicker off his game before a kick. Maybe McGrath is elite in his mental strength compared to others, but for him, the extra time is actually beneficial.

“I don’t know how other people handle it but for me I love it,” McGrath said about getting iced on Friday. “I’ve been iced many times in my career and I think of it as I have extra time to kind of lock in more, visualize being out on the field where I’m about to kick it, and just kind of go through my technique and visualize more.”

Opposing coaches be warned – the timeout may be better used elsewhere in the game.

“That was probably the longest I’ve been iced because that was right before the half,” McGrath said about the Ole Miss game. “[Lane Kiffin] might’ve had all three timeouts – However many timeouts he had, he used all of them.”

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