LSU Hero Previously Got His Kicks at Assumption College
Butterflies the size of Bartolo Colon must have been flying around Cole Tracy’s stomach when he came out to attempt a last-second field goal Saturday.
His LSU team trailed 21-19 against Auburn in a battle between two of the top college football teams in the nation. As a national TV audience looked on, Tracy tried to ignore the 86,787 fans hooting and hollering inside Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala.
Probably 80,000 of those fans wanted Tracy to miss. Talk about pressure. Knee-buckling pressure.
Undaunted, Tracy drilled a 42-yard field goal to lift No. 12 LSU over No. 7 Auburn, 22-21.
Not bad for a kid who spent the previous three seasons kicking for Assumption College.
That’s right, the native of Camarillo, Calif., starred for the Worcester school before joining LSU as a senior graduate transfer. He left Assumption after scoring a school-record 373 points. Last fall, he enjoyed a dream season by making 27 of 29 field goals, all 67 of his extra-point kicks, for a single-season school record 148 points.
Division 2 or Division 1, the field goal posts are the same size. But the pressure is decidedly different.
Consider that Tracy kicked in front of an announced crowd of 506 during a 40-3 victory over American International College last Nov. 4 in Springfield in which he booted four field goals.
He kicked before 818 fans at Southern Connecticut State in New Haven, Conn., earlier in the season. The biggest crowd he performed before last season was a home crowd of 2,975 against Stonehill.
Tracy did show his mettle in the NCAA Division 2 tournament last fall when he was a perfect 6-for-6 field goals as Assumption defeated California (Pa.) and Findlay before falling to Indiana (Pa.) in a quarterfinal.
In three years at Assumption (he didn’t take the field during his first season in Worcester), Tracy made 68 of 84 field goals.
His transition to kicking in front of family and friends to the high-pressure world of SEC football has been a remarkably smooth one.
He made a 54-yard field goal during his Division 1 debut against Miami. The following week he drilled a 50-yarder against Southeastern Louisiana.
Against Auburn, in of the marquee games of the early college football schedule, he showed plenty of poise by making three of four field goals. His only miss was on a 53-yarder.
In three games for undefeated LSU, Tracy is 8-for-9 on field goals and 8-for-8 on extra points.
And that includes his winning 42-yarder against Auburn, which sailed down the middle like on so many attempts against Merrimack, Saint Anselm and Bentley when the stakes were a lot lower, the crowds were a lot smaller and TV cameras weren’t capturing the drama.
On his game-winning kick, Tracy showed speed benefiting an Assumption Greyhound, running away from his teammates before getting knocked down by a jubilant teammate.
Assumption College fans watched Tracy boom plenty of impressive kicks the past three falls. On Saturday, America witnessed his magical right foot.
Follow Barry Scanlon@BarryScanlonSun