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August 16, 2011Most Mississippi State fans know about the success Derek DePasquale has enjoyed the past two seasons for the Bulldogs.
After all DePasquale enters his senior campaign as the most accurate kicker in school history. But there was another year that most don't remember.
In the spring of 2007 DePasquale enrolled at MSU after transferring in from the Colorado School of Mines where he kicked as a freshman. He attempted to arrange a tryout with then head coach Sylvester Croom but was never awarded that opportunity.
DePasquale continued to work on his engineering degree and practiced on his own for an entire year never knowing if he would ever kick again. But when Croom resigned and Dan Mullen was hired for the 2008 season he finally got his chance.
The Woodlands, Texas made the most of that opportunity making the squad as a walk-on behind Sean Brauchle and eventually took over the starting job midway through the season.
Over the past two years DePasquale has made 20 of his 24 field goal attempts with a long of 48 yards and drilled all 51 PATs.
"You dream about it but you never see yourself standing here today going into your senior year with hundreds of thousands of people depending on you," DePasquale said. "It's kind of surreal but at the same time it's awesome. It's something to tell your kids about when you're older."
But his football success might have to take a backseat to attaining another goal in December.
"I've got 12 hours of school left to graduate and that's really the best part is being done with my engineering degree," DePasquale said. "That's been terrible with football - that hasn't made it easy. Someone is going to give me a degree here in a few months and expect me to build things and operate things. That's the scary thing let alone kick a football and be successful there. This is a good way to cap things off for my college career which I ultimately could have spent in a fraternity living the easy life. Mullen coming here was what really changed everything."
DePasquale is happy he decided to transfer to State following his freshman year. During his one season in Division II he made three of his seven field goal tries and converted all 17 of the extra points in five games for the Orediggers.
DePasquale is quick to admit there is a drastic change in playing at MSU and the Colorado School of Mines on Saturdays.
"On game day we would show up and I could count the number of fans on my fingers and toes," DePasquale said. "It's a little warmer down here. That's the reason I couldn't get anything out of that because at Colorado we'd have 100 people at our games and it was kind of boring. I was even like 'why are we even here? No one really cares about us'. That's why I wanted to be here for the game day atmosphere. I love it. It's an amazing thing."
DePasquale and the rest of the kickers are still getting themselves acclimated to the grind of fall camp over the past few weeks.
"Fall camp has been good," DePasquale said. "We've been working on different things all summer actually. We really haven't been forced to be outside in this heat and deal with all of the running and then try to kick. It's taken a little time to adjust to the fall camp schedule but overall everyone is real confident."
In 2010 DePasquale also served as the Bulldogs kickoff man. But it appears that another walk-on transfer could relieve him of those duties. Former Parade All-American and Western Illinois sophomore Brian Egan could surpass DePasquale assume that position.
"Egan's kickoffs are looking really good," DePasquale said. "He's been putting them into the end zone and deeper. We're really confident in our kickoffs this year. He has a stronger leg than I do and it shows. His kickoffs are always 10-yards further than mine and that's fine. I'd rather him do kickoffs. I have more confidence in him than I do myself."