NC State's Legend: Marc Primanti
Dec. 2, 2011
Raleigh, N.C. -
In the beginning, NC State coaches got just a video glimpse of Marc Primanti’s potential.
In the end, they were mesmerized by his perfection.
Arriving as a walk-on, Primanti produced one of college football’s all-time best kicking feats in the 1996 season -- 20-for-20 on field goals; 24-for-24 on extra points.
“I had to go out there and make every kick” was Primanti’s mantra.
With that flawless performance, he became an All-American, won the Lou Groza Award presented to the nation’s premier placekicker and indelibly etched his name in Wolfpack football lore that includes a plethora of star kickers.
Now, to boot, Primanti will be honored as one of 12 ACC Legends this weekend in Charlotte, site of the conference championship game between Clemson and Virginia Tech.
With the Wolfpack, Primanti wasn’t just a one-season wonder. In two years as the team's placekicker, he converted 51 of 52 extra point attempts and 31 of his 33 field goal tries, a 93.9 FG percentage.
Walk-on...to Lou Groza Award winner...to Legend. That’s some feat for a kicker. At one time, it appeared unlikely for Primanti.
Primanti, a partner now in the Raleigh-based FS Series company that stages running events, didn’t set out to become a college football player.
An all-around high school athlete in Pennsylvania, he planned to play soccer at Towson State. When that didn’t pan out, he looked toward NC State, where high school teammate Larry Austin was.
That prompted Primanti to send a video to Wolfpack assistant Henry Trevathan, who coached kickers on Dick Sheridan’s staff.
“Everything worked out from there,’’ said Primanti, who accepted an invitation to walk-on.
But walk-ons have to earn their spot the hard way. And those first few years at State weren't just a Snap! Hold! Kick and split the uprights experience for “White Bread,” the nickname Austin penned on Primanti. It was a grind beneath a cloud of uncertainty.
After redshirting as a freshman, he feared being cut in ’93, when the NCAA mandated reducing roster sizes. As several teammates exited, Primanti escaped the ax.
“I was very fortunate to be invited back; I’m thankful,’’ said Primanti.
But he took many lickings kicking in football’s version of “H-O-R-S-E” during practice against upperclassman All-America Steve Videtich.
“No matter what I did I would come up one kick short,’’ Primanti said of his duels with Videtich. “He beat me daily. That made me become a little bulldog, hustle, grind, compete and fight. In time it paid off.”
After booting hundreds of balls in practice, the compact, 5-7, 175-pound Primanti finally got a chance to kick against Marshall his redshirt junior year.
He trotted out feeling “excited ” and “nervous” until lining up for the field goal. Then he settled, allowed his technique and muscle memory to kick in, and made a short 20-yarder.
From that modest start, he went on to hit 11 of his 13 attempts that season. But he still hasn’t forgotten those two misses against Alabama -- one that veered about a foot wide right, another that curved a few inches left of the upright.
“I felt so bad; I let the team down,’’ Primanti said, as if still pained by the only two misfires of his career. “It humbled you. It helped me refocus, dial in. A walk-on, you’ve got to do better.”
Primanti did better. The next fall he slammed a career long 48 yarder in another loss to Alabama on the way to his perfect season and an ACC record 27 consecutive field goals, a streak that had started his junior year.
“After missing two the previous year (at Bama), I tried to stay extra focused,’‘ he said.
While grateful for individual honors, Primanti laments that he didn’t kick State into post-season play while in a starting role.
“I was spoiled coming in as a freshman,’’ he said. “They had been to three straight bowls. Here it is, my turn, and we didn’t get it done. I wish I had been the kicker on two bowl teams.”
As for the personal awards, Primanti says “accolades are always nice.” But he graciously credits his offensive line, snapper Larry Daughtry, holders Greg Addis, Jay Dukes and Jose Loranna, and assistant coaches Trevathan and Ken Pettus for helping him.
“Coach T had us so ready,’’ Primanti said. “My hats off to Coach T for believing in me. Coach Pettus (kicking coach his senior year) was knowledgeable and helped you stay in form.”
Aside from fine-tuning the technical aspects, Trevathan emphasized establishing a strict pre-kick routine. He also made kickers run sprints and practice blocking and tackling, though Primanti never had to hit in games.
As his field goal streak increased in ’96, Primanti defused the budding pressure by sticking to his ritual and resolving to connect on every kick.
As a result, Primanti remained perfect.
He was so automatic that in one game against Wake Forest, a Deacon defensive lineman was overheard saying: “I don’t know why I should rush, you know he’s not gonna miss.”
"Marc brought a lot of natural ability and techniques (and) he was a competitive kid," Trevathan said.
And he remains grateful for his Wolfpack days.
“I wouldn’t change the experience here for the world,’’ said Primanti, who also met his wife of 11 years, Julie, at State.
ON THE RUN
The last five years, Primanti has worked marathons, triathlons and other athletic events with his FS Series partners, former State punter Jason Biggs and Brent Dorenkamp.
After starting with one race in 2007, the FS trio has more than 80 events scheduled for ‘12. They manage on-line registration, secure sponsors, get insurance coverage, security, and handle the accounting.
And they strive to make the races fun family outings, Primanti emphasized.
“He’s great to work with...very dedicated,” Biggs said. “He works as hard as he did when he was kicking.”
With business booming, Primanti doesn’t do a lot of kicking these days. But when time permits, he shares his knowledge with young area players and teaches some one-on-one lessons.
That's good for kids with a penchant for kicking -- to watch, listen and learn from a Legend.
By A.J. CARR