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With high expectations, former Ute Matt Gay introduces himself to Tampa Bay

‘I want to be the best kicker in the NFL’

Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Matt Gay kicks a field goal as Bradley Pinion holds during an NFL football minicamp Thursday, June 6, 2019, in Tampa, Fla.
Chris O’Meara, AP

SALT LAKE CITY — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers shocked the NFL by picking Matt Gay in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

“When I got drafted, I think the notion was mixed, the feeling was mixed with fans. I think half of them were like, ‘OK, we’re trying to fix the situation and then I think half remembered the past and were kind of freaking out,” Gay said in an interview posted to the Bucs’ social feed.

Gay went from not playing football to being an integral part of Utah’s offense and winning the Lou Groza Award.

“I kind of was known for having a strong kick, a big leg, so people would always tell me, “You need to play football, you could go to the NFL.’ I started kicking in the spring of 2017, first season was 2017 fall at the University of Utah,” Gay said. “No one in my family every played football, so it was new for them going to football games and things like that. I actually asked my dad this question, ‘You now have a son in the NFL,’ he said, ‘Never in a million years would I thought I’d ever have a kid in the NFL. Maybe something with soccer, but never in the NFL,’” Gay said.

Gay, an Orem native, seems to be doing his best to give Bucs fans confidence in a kicker again, nailing a 55-yard field goal in a preseason game against the Steelers.

“I want to be the best kicker you guys have had, I want to be the best kicker in the NFL,” he said. “I have high expectations and I want to achieve a lot of great things. I want to do my part for the team when it comes down to what I’ve got to do, I’m going to be successful in what I’m doing, and I trust my teammates will be successful in what they’re doing, so we can find that success that all these guys, this organization, this city’s been wanting for the past few years.”