Football is much more than a sport in the South, it’s a lifestyle. After transitioning from high school football in Georgia to college football in Alabama, this concept is all too familiar for Samford kicker Mitchell Fineran.
From entering Samford and joining the squad as a true freshman, to kicking full-time for the Bulldogs last year and even collecting a preseason Southern Conference first-team honor this season, Fineran is adapting to the speed of college football with ease in this, his sophomore year.
“I take everything one day at a time,” Fineran said. “Once you find a routine that works, whether that be waking up and going to class or practice, you stick with it and do the same thing over and over.”
In his senior season of high school, Fineran was ranked in the top 30 kickers nationwide. Hailing from Fort Valley, Georgia, and Peach County High School, Fineran made a name for himself in high school by nailing five field goals of 50 yards or more.
“I had a lot of opportunities, I got to kick a lot because we scored a lot,” Fineran said . “Football taught me how to adapt to changes and be around all different kinds of people.”
From playing throughout the state of Georgia to competing for a championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Fineran slowly but surely gained exposure throughout his high school tenure.
“If I had not attended school where I did, I may not have received a scholarship, so I am very happy with the choice I made,” Fineran said.
After high school came to an end, Fineran decided to make Birmingham, Alabama, his home for the next four years, joining the Samford football team on a full scholarship.
The kicking position is an important role in college football, and oftentimes, swings and alters the game in unthinkable ways. For Fineran, he deals with the stress of making important kicks by having a short-term memory and treating each field goal and kickoff individually.
“I always try my best to simply do my job, help the team and focus on the basics,” Fineran said. “Kicking is all about consistency, and if you do that on a daily basis, the games will go your way and the wins will come as well.”
In his freshman campaign, Fineran nailed 13 of 17 field goals and connected on all 50 extra point attempts. After two games this season, he is a perfect three for three in field goals and nine for nine in extra point attempts.
“Forgetting about the bad days is very important at the college level,” Fineran said. “When I do that, the kicking part becomes easy and I can improve and build upon what I started last year.”
Although the Bulldogs have come up short in their first two games this season, Fineran acknowledges that coming to Samford was the right choice for him and many others and that the team will continue to maintain a dedicated work ethic in order to push for a Southern Conference championship.
“Before I came to Samford, I really didn’t know much about the university,” Fineran said. “I quickly realized that competing in the Southern Conference is great. In the end, it’s up to us to decide what we want to get out of the season, and I think our team is ready to take that step.”