South Carolina Football’s GOAT Series: Top-10 greatest kickers and punters of all-time

South Carolina football kicker/punter Ryan Succop. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports
South Carolina football kicker/punter Ryan Succop. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports /
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Kickers and punters don’t get much love in the football world, but specialists can have a big impact on a team’s success. The South Carolina football program has had several elite punters and kickers who were big parts of winning football games in Columbia. Some players served as both the team’s punter and kicker, but for the purpose of this ranking, players will be judged based on their better position; players pulling double-duty may win a “tiebreaker” with another player if the rankings are exceptionally close.

Honorable Mentions

Tom O’Connor: The punter for the “Black Magic” 1984 Gamecocks, Tom O’Connor (1984-1985) only spent two years in Columbia but was a very good punter. Averaging over 41 yards per kick for his career, O’Connor was one of the top punters in the country in 1985 as he booted the ball almost 44 yards per punt. He spent a short time in the NFL after graduation from Carolina.

Reed Morton: Reed Morton (1993-1996) survived an accidental electrocution as a teenager before making his way to the University of South Carolina. During his Gamecock career, Morton broke Scott Hagler’s consecutive extra point record by going a perfect 84-84 for his career on PATs. An accurate kicker, Morton made over 70% of his career field goals but lacked the leg to make long kicks. His career-long was a 48-yarder against Kentucky, but his second-longest was a 47-yarder in the Gamecocks’ first-ever bowl win against West Virginia in the 1994 Carquest Bowl.

Max Runager: The punter during South Carolina’s transition from the ACC to Independent ball, Max Runager (1974-1978) was a team captain for head coach Jim Carlen. Runager, a South Carolina native, averaged over 41 yards per punt in his career. He was selected to participate in the All-American Bowl by college coaches after his senior season and “put it all together” as a pro, spending over a decade in the NFL.

Courtney Leavitt: Courtney Leavitt (1996-1999) punted and kicked for the Gamecocks, but he was a much better punter. He averaged over 40 yards per punt in his career and scored 74 points as a kicker. Perhaps the most famous thing about Leavitt, though, is his Lou Holtz impersonation. Players who played for the legendary coach say that among all the impersonations (and there were many), Leavitt’s was the best.

Scott Hagler: A small player, even for a kicker, Scott Hagler (1982-1986) was a fan favorite kicker and a team captain in 1986. Hagler went an impressive 117-118 on extra points in his career, including a perfect 80-80 in his first two years as the starter for the Gamecocks; the streak ended with a record 82 in a row. In the “Black Magic” season of 1984, Hagler had the game-winning field goal over the rival Clemson Tigers, likely a big reason for his status as a fan favorite. He spent a short time in the NFL after graduation.

Mitch Jeter: Mitch Jeter (2020-Present) is still in school and has only been the placekicker for a single season. However, he has been perfect on field goal tries and still has two years of eligibility remaining. Jeter was a kickoff specialist for two seasons before taking over the field goal job after Parker White’s graduation. Because of the “Covid redshirt,” Jeter can play two more years and rise pretty high on the field goal leaderboards.

Chris Norman: A full-time punter, Chris Norman (1980-1983) and his wispy mustache were fan favorites. Norman was a good punter who made an All-South Independent team in 1983. Norman averaged over 40 yards a punt for his career and punted the football more than any other Gamecock in South Carolina football history.

Josh Brown: Josh Brown (2001-2005) took over the punting job as a redshirt sophomore after Tyeler Dean left. He filled in decently well but found more success when he took over the kicking job the following season. In his two years as the starting kicker, Brown made 20 of 25 field goals, including his most famous, a 49-yard game-winner to upset the Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville in 2005.