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Cal Football

Bear Insider Video: New Starting Kicker Mateen Bhaghani

September 29, 2023

Frosh kicker Mateen Bhaghani parlayed a strong leg and a strong high school camp performance as a prep at Del Norte High School in San Diego into a shot as a preferred walk-on at Cal.

"I actually set my school record with the 53-yarder,” Bhaghani said. “So that was super exciting. I mean, I had a great operation - snapper, holder. So everything just came together."

Bhaghani didn’t start out as a kicker but eventually found he had the leg to excel on the gridiron.

"As a kid, I always played soccer," Bhaghani noted. "So that really helped to kind of boost my leg (strength). I was always kicking a soccer ball all day, every day. So as soon as I transitioned into high school, I started kicking footballs. I got pretty good and started training with a local coach. And that's kind of where it all started."

Besides the importance of a big leg, Bhaghani knows firsthand the important role the mental aspect plays in the kicking game.

"Yeah, that's something I definitely had to develop instead of just trying to kick the ball as hard as you can, every time." Bhaghani said. "You have to really focus in on what's gonna make this kick or what's gonna make that kick or if you're on the left hash or the right hand, it's really all about focus and being able to lock in at the moment and just make the kick."

It was an experience at Cal that caused the future Bear to have the confidence and knowledge that his leg might open the door to bigger opportunities.

"After my junior year, I actually came to the specialist camp here at Cal because I always looked at Cal and definitely wanted to go there," Bhaghani said. "It's a great city, great school, great football program. And I put on a great performance here. I ended up winning their camp. And that's when I found out like, 'Oh, I really have the opportunity to play here.' And soon after they offered me so that kind of pushed me to keep working and really shoot for school like this.”

Bhaghani’s academic interests also align nicely with his position on the field.

"I'm looking into psychology," Bhaghani noted. "I find that pretty interesting, especially as a student athlete. I think the psychology game is really important, especially as a kicker because it's a very mental game. I like to say it's 90% mental and 10% physical."

With the struggles of starting kicker Micheal Luckhurst to start the season, Bhaghani had the opportunity to show what he could do in Saturday’s loss to Washington where he cleanly hit an extra point after the Bears’ last touchdown of the evening.

"I was a little bit anxious, but I had trust in what I can do," Bhaghani noted. "And I wasn't too surprised. Me and Michael have a great relationship and we support each other so we know when the job needs to be done.”

Now Bhaghani will get another opportunity to show what he can do after earning his first collegiate start in Saturday’s game against ASU.

"I'm obviously very excited, looking to make the most of the opportunity and help my team win,” Bhaghani said. “And my family will be coming up from San Diego."

So far, the transition’s been smooth for the frosh kicker.

"Obviously, as a transition from high school, it's a lot different to college,” Bhaghani said. “Now I have a great snapper and a great holder, Lachlan and Bird. And it's almost perfect every time so it's made my job a lot easier and I think it's helped me be able to perform."

Bhaghani displayed plenty of power as a prep kicker, hitting a pair of 50-yard kicks as well as his school record 53-yarder. What does the new starter feel his range is?

"I wouldn't really throw out a range there but I would just say I've trusted my holder and snapper and I think we can get the job done from wherever if needed.”

At this point after this season’s early kicking and special teams travails, Cal fans will simply settle for accuracy and a healthy dose of drama-free kicking from the newest starting kicker.

Discussion from...

Bear Insider Video: New Starting Kicker Mateen Bhaghani

2,888 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 2 mo ago by heartofthebear
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I'm rooting for him. I like him.

Not that I didn't like or root for Luckhurst but life lesson you get your chances.
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Does the "just got out of bed" look help if you're a kicker?
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