BEREA, Ohio -- The Cleveland Browns were looking to make strides in every facet of the game after posting a 1-15 record during the 2016 regular season, and they addressed the special teams with their first of two seventh-round picks in the 2017 NFL Draft.
After enduring several missed field goals from former Pro Bowl kicker Cody Parkey in 2016, the Browns selected former Arizona State University specialist Zane Gonzalez with the 224th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft in April.
“I’m looking forward to getting out here and getting to work, getting used to kicking in this weather,” Gonzalez said at rookie minicamp. “It is awesome -- a great facility, a great team. After talking to coach, the way that the team is looking this year, I’m excited to get to work.”
After playing “soccer my whole life,” Gonzalez started kicking in high school, and four years later, earned his way onto the Arizona State football team. Later, Gonzalez earned a scholarship for his achievements on the field.
“It got more serious going into my sophomore year,” Gonzalez said. “From there, I just saw an opportunity and then, just made the most of it each year.
“The recruiting process was not very fun. I didn’t get an offer until a month-and-a-half after signing day. Once I got my foot in the door, all I could do is just go to work.”
In four years with the Sun Devils, Gonzalez converted an NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision record 96 of his 116 career field goal attempts (82.75 percent) and 204 of his 209 extra-point tries (97.6 percent) on the way to 492 points.
During the 2016 season, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound native of Deer Park, Texas, converted 23 of his 25 field goal tries (92.0 percent), including all 16 of his attempts from between 20 and 49 yards. Then, from 50 yards or more, Gonzalez converted seven of his nine tries, including a career long 59-yarder.
Prior to the 2016 season, Gonzalez’s career-long field goal was from 49 yards out.
Gonzalez scored a career-best 138 points during his freshman year in 2013, when he converted 25 of his 30 field goal attempts and 63 of a possible 65 points after touchdowns.
He had 108 or more points in each of his four seasons at Arizona State.
Now, Gonzalez is going over “just mental stuff” that comes along with a change from the dry climate of Arizona to the humidity and ever-changing weather conditions that come along with playing for the Browns.
“You can’t really let it get to you,” Gonzalez said. “You go out there and just stay in your routine. You just have to figure out a way through it. Just like any other position, you have to work your way through unique situations. With the coaching staff that we have here and the team, I feel confident going into it.”