Originally published August 18, 2008 at 04:50p.m., updated August 18, 2008 at 08:13p.m.

Kicker Hoge leaves KU football team

Hoge leaves school to pursue academics; Branstetter could miss season due to eligibility issues

Stephen Hoge was one of three kickers vying for the starting job at Kansas University. Hoge announced on Monday, August 18, that he has left the team.

Stephen Hoge was one of three kickers vying for the starting job at Kansas University. Hoge announced on Monday, August 18, that he has left the team.



Stephen Hoge was one of three kickers vying for the starting job at Kansas University. Hoge announced on Monday, August 18, that he has left the team.

Kansas University redshirt freshman Stephen Hoge, one of three placekickers vying for the Jayhawks' starting job this season, left the team Sunday, according to his father, John Hoge.

"He left to focus on academics and getting into (medical) school," John Hoge said in an e-mail response to the Journal-World on Monday afternoon.

Entering the 2008 season, Hoge was listed as the No. 1 kicker on the team's preseason depth chart. At KU's media day two weeks ago, however, head coach Mark Mangino announced that it was a three-man race among Hoge, sophomore Jacob Branstetter and transfer Grady Fowler.

As a senior at Putnam City North High in 2006, Hoge was named a PrepStar Magazine all-American after connecting on 16-of-16 extra points and 12-of-16 field goal attempts. He also set school records for field goals in a game, season and career.

Meanwhile, Branstetter's father, Gerald Branstetter, confirmed Monday that his son had recently been informed that he could be prohibited from playing this season due to eligibility issues stemming from his transfer from Air Force Academy.

Branstetter, who enrolled in the Academy following his high school graduation in 2006, left two weeks into classes and sat out a semester before enrolling at Kansas in January of '07.

Since then, he has taken classes at KU - including summer school work - and was under the impression he had done everything necessary to gain eligibility for the 2008 season. According to his father, Branstetter had also been told that he was in line to be the team's top kicker this year before it was discovered that he was five credits short of being deemed eligible.

The family is currently in the process of petitioning the NCAA for a waiver that would allow Branstetter to compete for the Jayhawks this season.

"The letter is in the (KU) compliance office and they're supposed to send it into the NCAA (Tuesday)," said Gerald Branstetter, who was first informed of the problem Thursday. "I've heard it could be as quick as 24 hours, or it could be weeks. For Kansas' sake, and Jacob's, I hope it's 24 hours and he gets to play."

If not, it leaves Butler County Community College transfer Grady Fowler as the team's likely kicker entering the season.

As a member of the 2007 national junior college champion Butler County team, Fowler earned honorable mention all-American honors after making eight of 12 field goals and 53 of 55 PATs. He was also a first-team all-state selection as a member of the Chase County High program.

These developments come just a week after it came to light that three of the team's seven running backs would not be with the team in 2008.

Carmon Boyd-Anderson and Donte Bean each announced that they would be leaving the program to pursue transfers, while true freshman Sean Ransburg, a running back out of Harrisonville (Mo.) High, will be forced to miss the 2008 season due to eligibility issues.

Although Boyd-Anderson and Bean were not expected to play much this season, the thinning of the kicking unit could represent a significant challenge to coach Mark Mangino and his staff.


hawkshock 14 years, 1 month ago

"QUITER"?njjayhawk, you obviously wouldn't understand anything about academics, let alone concentrating on them....

Dyrk Dugan 14 years, 1 month ago

i wouldn't call Hoge a's just the timing of it all. Has he looked at the calendar? He does realize that the season starts in 12 days? i mean c'mon! i'm all for pursuing academics and your professional career, but when you're on a football team, and you one of a few in a specialty position, it's not about you; there are your teammates and your coaches and your school. And now this Branstetter kid is ineligible? How can a kicker be ineligible? Fowler better start practicing in his sleep....because any push from practice is gone.

Jonathan Allison 14 years, 1 month ago

Time to try out Kerry Meier for place kicking duties. My only question is how will he perform as both the holder and the kicker

joepattern 14 years, 1 month ago

uhhh... uh oh. Well... and then there was one? Looks like we will go for it on 4th A LOT.

Kyle Cornish 14 years, 1 month ago

Get over the Arnett from Missouri thing already... Leave the rivalry on the field. Any other normal, sane person does.

Rivethead 14 years, 1 month ago

If Bransletter get reinstated by the end of the week (which is possible), this call be much ado about nothing. I suspect Hoge made his decision because he had slipped to #3 out of the three.So (assuming Bransletter gets reinstated) it's a two man race now.Like it's been said before, our kicking game was going to struggle anyway. I'm more concerned about kick offs than field goals.

Jim Baker 14 years, 1 month ago

How can Kerry Meier be the holder and the kicker? Easy...its called the Drop-kick. Get Doug Flutie on the coaching staff, pronto!

sdoyel 14 years, 1 month ago

OU 31, KU 30.3 seconds left. Mangino calls timeout.... KU is lining up for a game winning 36 yard field goal. Out trots a TRUE FRESHMAN kicker.Ask yourself: Do you trust a true freshman kicker in the clutch?

treidy 14 years, 1 month ago

Anyone else noticed the awkwardness of the headline: "Hoge leaves school to pursue academics."How do you leave school to pursue academics?

jayhawkinATL 14 years, 1 month ago

Ugh!!!!! This absolutely SUCKS!!!!! Man, I hope we don't have any close games to worry about.

Ryan Gerstner 14 years, 1 month ago

I was already worried about the kicking game, but this is a disaster.

jayhawker85 14 years, 1 month ago

If the guys main goal is working towards his degree and he wasn't confident to be the main kicker for the Jayhawks, then so be it.This could end up being good for the Jayhawks if one guy, Fowler, can make the cut. As for Hoge, time to hit the books!

Jason Hohman 14 years, 1 month ago

Normally I would never call out someone's misspelling... but when it starts with "how do you spell" it is well deserved.

Jeffery Barrett 14 years, 1 month ago

"Everything King Midas touches turns to gold. Everything Chuck Norris touches turns up dead."Everything Kerry Meier touches turns into six points.Ok, three points, then!

Ervin O'Neal 14 years, 1 month ago

Time to check out the soccer club for someone with a strong accurate foot as a potential backup kicker in case of injury.

troutsee 14 years, 1 month ago

No matter how you spin it, this is not good news. Even before this happened I was worried about the kicking game (see my previous posts). Now it is double the worry. Message to Fowler..."practice, practice, practice."

Eurekahwk 14 years, 1 month ago

This is actually good news from what I've heard.

Lance Hobson 14 years, 1 month ago

Ha Ha, the first thing I thought when I saw this was Kerry Meier. Guess I'm not the only one. That said, we may be in real trouble here. When Webb was a freshman he cost us a chance to go to a bowl game.

KUSU 14 years, 1 month ago

kerry meier is god, he can do everything

sevenyearhawk 14 years, 1 month ago

Kerry Meier, get in there and kick!(anyone remember that Kordell Stewart commercial with Bill Cowher?)***Shouldn't Reesing be holding anyway, maybe they'll get Kale Pick on it.Coach Fambrough could help Meier pick out a "hard-toed shoe" ... :D

JBurtin 14 years, 1 month ago

Well, Mangino didn't sound terribly confident in Hoge's kicking abilities in the Spring. Remember that comment when somebody asked him if Hoge was going to be ready for kicking duties and he said something to the effect of "he'd better be". That kind of comment made me think that he must have been struggling. I think that was further confirmed when they brought in a Juco kid to compete as well.My guess is that he found out that he simply wasn't going to be the guy. You wouldn't quit the team 12 days before the season if you had just been named the starting kicker. If he can't be the guy at the D-1 level, then he's certainly not going to the NFL. Might as well hang it up and make his money somewhere else.Good luck to him, no hard feelings here.When all is said and done I think Fowler will do fine and hopefully Bransletter can get his eligability straightened out. Makes me wonder if Rojas has ever kicked a fieldgoal. Could be a potential backup.

5DecadeHawk 14 years, 1 month ago

I've said it before and I'll say it again.Division 1 football is not for the meek.Give me guys willing to lay it on the line every week. No softies allowed.I'd rather learn NOW that Hoge wasn't up to it than in the middle of the season at a moment where he might be counted on to kick. This applies to every position. If you're not willing to do the work on the field AND in the classroom, we'll find someone else who is.NO EXCEPTIONS. We made way too many exceptions for the last few decades. Of course I'm saddened that we're down to 1 kicker. It hurts our depth and it changes how special teams will be able to practice.I'd still rather find out now than later. At least now the coaches can be looking for recruits to add depth for next year.This gives the offense more incentive to score touchdowns.

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