Every Arizona Football All-American in history: Kicker Steve McLaughlin

Even with guys like Max Zendejas, Jason Bondzio, and Tyler Loop on the record boards, McLaughlin is Arizona's only kicker to earn the high honors.
STEVE MCLAUGHLIN / Stephen Dunn/GettyImages

The Arizona Wildcats are far from the most storied college football program in Division I, and they don't often churn out early-round NFL draft picks. However, there occasionally comes along a player whose greatness is nationally recognized while suiting up in the Red and Blue with the Block A on the helmet.

Six Arizona Football players have been recognized as unanimous first-team All-Americans, and they fall into three neat groups that we've already covered: linebackers, cornerbacks, and defensive linemen. Now, we're pivoting into the 12 players recognized as consensus All-Americans. In this series, we'll look at all their Arizona careers position-by-position.

To give the specialists some love, the first non-unanimous consensus All-American we'll be looking at in this series is kicker Steve McLaughlin. At the time of writing, McLaughlin's 50 career field goals place him second all-time on the Arizona leaderboards behind Max Zendejas (79) and just ahead of third-place Tyler Loop (49).

Steve McLaughlin

STEVE MCLAUGHLIN / Otto Greule Jr/GettyImages

The Wildcats struggled to find a stable option at kicker after Zendejas departed for the NFL after the 1985 season. Gary Coston, McLaughlin's predecessor, was a near-automatic PAT kicker, but missed extensive time from 1988-89 and was inconsistent as a field goal kicker. McLaughlin, though not much more reliable on field goals, had the best ability: availability.

From 1991-94, the Tucson native and Sahuaro High School graduate McLaughlin played in 42 total games for Arizona. He hit the ground running as a freshman in 1991, nailing 29 of his 32 PATs and going 3-6 on his field goals in the "worst" season of his Arizona career.

As a sophomore, McLaughlin started to find more of a rhythm. He was perfect on all 26 of his PATs in 1992 and showed improvement in his field goal kicking. Arizona sent him out for 20 field goals, and he rang true on 11 of them for a 55% mark. His 26 PATs in a perfect season are tied for ninth-most in a single season in Arizona history, and he would tie this mark again later in his career.

In 1993, McLaughlin was knocking on the door of greatness. He couldn't repeat his perfect season of PATs, but he did increase his total to 27 makes on 29 attempts. His fourth-down kicking also got better once again, improving to 13 of his 20 attempts for a 65% mark.

The pieces all fell into place in 1994 when he returned to form on his PATs and was a machine from the field. McLaughlin once again went perfect on his 26 extra point attempts, and he was sent out for 29 field goal attempts. His 23 field goals still stand as the single-season record for Arizona, marking an improvement of 10 makes in just a year. Including his two made kicks in the Freedom Bowl, McLaughlin's number gets even more absurd at 25.

He led the country in field goals in 1994, earning consensus All-American honors. In addition to being named a consensus first-team All-American, he was awarded the 1994 Lou Groza Award for the nation's best kicker and (justifiably) earned a First-Team All-Pac-10 nod. This statement 1994 season was among the best in Arizona history, and he deserves his spot in the Arizona Hall of Fame and the honor of having his jersey retired by the Wildcats.

Every Arizona Football All-American. DL. D-linemen Rob Waldrop and Tedy Bruschi. dark

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