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Miami Hurricanes 2020 Senior Spotlight: Jose Borregales

Even Though Miami Originally Ignored Borregales, They Found the Kicker By Way of the Transfer Portal As Jose Now Heads to the NFL

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Miami v Louisville Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

If you can’t beat ‘em, then get ‘em to join U.

Before Kicker Jose Borregales joined the Canes as a graduate transfer in 2020, there were two major reasons that put the star kicker on Miami’s radar: 1) Jose’s brother had already committed to Miami; and 2) Jose had just played a pivotal role for FIU in their intra-city 30-24 victory over the U.

NCAA Football: Miami at Florida International Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Before the U

Originally from Venezuela, Borregales played high school football at Booker T. Washington in Miami before joining FIU. During his three years kicking for the Panthers, he became the all-time leading scorer with 281 career points by connecting on 50-of-66 field goal attempts, including a 53-yard long, and 131-of-134 PATs. In 2018, Jose was named a Lou Groza Award semi-finalist which is given to the nation’s top kicker, an award he hopes to claim outright this year.

In the November 2019 regular season game at Marlins Park, Borregales connected on all three FGs for distances of 29, 50, and 53 yards, with the 50-yarder providing a sparkplug for FIU heading into the half up 13-0. After one of his kicks, he also reportedly put his hands together and threw down the “U” symbol, a gesture used by many opponents in a way to mock the Canes.

The crucial kicks in that game had a special meaning for Borregales: during his recruiting process, he had dreamed of playing for Miami, but the Canes left him on read. So he committed to FIU. About a month after his strong performance against the U when Jose entered the NCAA Transfer Portal, Hurricanes special teams coordinator, Jonathan Patke, sent Borregales a direct message simply containing the eyeballs emoji. The tables had turned as Borregales had now piqued Miami’s interest.

The Path to the U

Based on his previous affinity for the Canes and Miami’s neglect of Jose during the recruiting process, Borregales quickly chose the U over interest from schools like Alabama, USF, Nebraska, Boise State, and Georgia Tech. He subsequently enrolled early at Miami to pursue a master’s degree in liberal studies.

“UM has always been my dream school and still is,” Borregales said. “I was raised here in Miami. I watched them play growing up. It was pretty much a straightforward decision on where I was going.”

And even though he is the elder Borregales by five years, he actually got an offer from the U after his brother, Andres. That is, Miami likely learned their lesson in failing to recruit Jose and secured a 2021 recruiting commitment from Andres in June 2019. Six months later, Miami signed Jose.

On the flip side, there was a clear and drastic need for Miami at the kicking position. The Canes kicking efficiency was subpar in 2019 as Bubba Baxa completed 74% of his overall kicks, and just 50% of his field goals. Borregales, on the other hand, had not only turned in a clutch performance against Miami with a pair of 50-plus yarders, but converted on a handful of fourth quarter/OT kicks for FIU.

As a result of Borregales’ January 12, 2020 transfer, Manny Diaz stated early in the season, “Jose Borregales has changed our football team,” Diaz said. “I mean, obviously, you look at some of our issues a year ago. Our inability to finish drive into points and to make easy layup field goals or PAT’s cost us wins, which cost us confidence. It’s so many things.”

Borregales’s Successful Senior Season

In a year following two mediocre seasons and when Miami’s culture needed a change, the specialists proved to play an invaluable role in that resurgence. A large reason for the team’s mediocrity in prior seasons was not only the poor field goal kicking, but also the punting often put the team in precarious situations field-position wise. The hidden yardage problem was resolved in 2020 as Borregales had a successful season. In addition, Jose’s placeholder and Miami’s punter, Lou Hedley, who joined the Canes in 2019, also had an impressive 2020 campaign as he is a finalist for the Ray Guy Award given to the nation’s best punter.

The similarities do not end there. Borregales initially garnered attention on the national stage from ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt, as the kicker’s presence on the field cannot be missed. Van Pelt described Jose’s “kicker swag,” as he is decked out in an arm sleeve, leg sleeve, and tattoos. Similarly, Hedley also made a national splash on his national signing day due to his intimidating 6-4, 234-pound frame and neck/arm tattoos. They were also both born outside the country as Hedley hails from Australia.

Needless to say, the duo formed an unbreakable bond as Hedley gave Borregales a shoutout in his senior day video, to which Jose simply replied “I love that guy.”

During fall camp, Hedley noted upon Borregales arrival that “he’s a freak. He has a great leg,” and that he’d witnessed the kicker nail 60+ yard field goals during early spring practices. Soon, the whole nation would witness Borregales’ kicking prowess.

In jMiami’s second game of this season, Borregales nailed his career high 57-yard FG against Louisville, with room to spare. With all his records already collected at FIU, it took him until just his second game to tie Miami’s career long kick. The 57-yarder singlehandedly put Jose’s name on the map for NFL scouts.

“My phone didn’t stop blowing up that whole night and the next morning, people mentioning the 57-yarder,” said Borregales, who has made kicks from 70 yards in practice. “It’s great for me to be able to show out on a stage like that. That’s the reason I transferred to get my name out there, hopefully to make it to the next level and show I can do this at any level.

The success continued throughout the season as Borregales proved he can do it all by nailing 18-of-20 FGs, which included one blocked attempt, and converted all 35 XPs. The 96.3% kicking efficiency was a marked improvement for Miami. It must also be noted his kicks have been perfect fundamentally, as nearly every attempt goes straight through the uprights, a refreshing sight for Canes’ fans. In addition, he was one of the most effective players nationally on kickoffs with a return rate of roughly 25%.

NFL Quest

Due to his success, the accolades have poured in for Borregales. This past week, he was the lone Cane named to the All-ACC First Team and is also one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Award. He was also invited to participate in the Reese’s Senior Bowl All-Star Game and has already earned First and Second Team All-American votes from certain publications.

The success of this season make him a favorite to be the first kicker selected in the 2021 NFL Draft, which he declared for this past week. It is unclear where this would place him in the draft as last year the Patriots selected Justin Rohrwasser as the first kicker in the fifth round, and he was the only kicker drafted, although a couple others were picked up as undrafted free agents and are currently starting for their NFL teams. On the other hand, Al Davis and the Raiders drafted Sebastian Janikowski 17th overall in 2000.

He will be a welcome addition to any NFL team as he plays with ice in his veins and has stated, “I like playing in big stages like that.” Also, hopefully he can bring some flair and “kicker swag” to the usually bland position.

Before he departs, he will kick in one last game on Tuesday in the Cheez-It Bowl. This will leave a seamless transition for his younger brother to take the reins of the Canes’ kicking situation as Andres should be the starter in 2021 and follow in his brother’s footsteps - just as he did over a decade ago.

“I started kicking when I was five years old,” Andres said. “My older brother started kicking when he was ten years old. I wanted to follow in my brother’s footsteps.”

Hopefully Hedley and the younger Borregales can continue the bond before Hedley likely makes his quest for the NFL path next year.

As the familial torch is passed and you partake in your final game during this one year rental, Thank U Jose Borregales, for transforming the kicker situation at the U. Miami made a mistake in ignoring you the first time around, but thank U for choosing the U over various transfer options. It was refreshing to have a reliable kicker and even more enjoyable to have specialists who were fun to watch. Thank U for choosing to be a Miami Hurricane to wrap up your collegiate career as U continue to make the U faithful proud in the NFL.