By Eduardo Monk Jr.
It was only but a season ago when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made the Florida State star Roberto Aguayo was the highest drafted kicker in the NFL since 2005 with Mike Nugent and the New York Jets. They invested a third and fourth round pick in that same draft in order to move up to the 59th spot to select Aguayo. But now the future is blurry for 2013 Lou Groza victor days after his abrupt end to his Buccaneers career.
After a college career that saw him convert 267 out of his 276 en route to becoming statistically the most accurate kicker in college history and having never missed an extra point was enough to pressure the Bucs into trading heavily up for him. The mistake was immediate and obvious for anyone not involved in the decision to make this move.
But for as massive as a bust Aguayo is considered, he had already exceeded every hope and desire his father had for his son in his decision to immigrate to the US from Mexico at the age of 18.
Roberto Aguayo Sr. grew up on a ranch in Capellania, a town in the state of Guanajuato in central Mexico. In his childhood, his family didn’t have electricity or running water. It was only when he turned 18 that he decided to trek over hundreds of miles to the US with two simple goals in mind-to work for money to send back to his parents and brothers and if he were to have a family, to be able to give them a better life than he had.
All he wanted for his future children was to finish schooling and to be apart of a soccer team.
After two failed tries, Aguayo Sr. crossed the border in 1986 on his third and successful attempt through former president Ronald Reagan’s Immigration Reform and Control Act which gave amnesty to illegal immigrants who had already settled in the US or had contributed to the seasonal agriculture.
And Aguayo Sr. succeeded when he found a home in Lake County, Florida. He had a cousin there who landed him a job at a local tree farm, where he still works at to this. A friend introduced him to a Mexican-American woman named Martina, who he would eventually marry. In 2004, he had achieved citizenship with the help of his son Roberto Jr. who at the time was in elementary school.
His first goal of working and sending money back to his family in Mexico was finally reached. Every month, they would send 100 dollars and a box of hand-me-down clothes to Capellania.
And for the second goal? It’s safe to say he had surpassed that years ago.
Roberto Jr. was kicking soccer balls with his right foot by the age of three. When he got into American football, he played as an offensive guard until Pop Warner leagues allowed placekicking. His coach lined everyone up and allowed every player to try their hand at kicking an extra point. And the age of 8 years old, he nailed his first of many American football kicks.
His father had built a PVC pipe field goal that doubled as a soccer goal in their backyard in which Roberto Jr. and his brother Ricky (now a freshman kicker at FSU) spent hours kicking until it was too dark to retrieve the footballs.
“My dad tells me, it is just a different ball now,” Aguayo says. “It’s a football, instead of a soccer ball.”
Aguayo would play both soccer and football up until his freshman year of high school. Early in the soccer season, he suffered a bone bruise in his knee which held him from kicking for three months. That was his last game of soccer in his career.
He studied the steps and technique of NFL kicking legends David Akers and John Carney in order to boil the rhythm of the swing of his leg into a science. He dreamed of attending “Kicker University” and would achieve this as he redshirted in 2012 at FSU.
His college career was star-studded, to say the least. He would go on to become the 2013 Lou Groza winner, which is the highest honor for a placekicker in college, not to mention a three time All-American and the 2013 National Championship winner.
He would seriously consider declaring for the NFL draft after his sophomore year. But he decided to stay in order to fulfill his father’s second dream for him-to finish schooling. He would earn a college degree in criminology.
He would declare for the 2016 NFL draft and as we already know, was selected 59th overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And would sadly become among the worst busts in NFL history. But despite this, despite the fact he may never find another NFL job, despite his Buccaneers career was over before he made his second season, he still achieved more than his father had ever hoped for him.
“My dad is the cover story for what many people do, coming here for a better life,” Aguayo says. “He’s always proud of me and my brother, and what we are doing, and I think that’s how we pay…” His voice trails but the point is still there. Roberto Aguayo Sr.’s journey is complete through his son chasing his. Even if it ends by being a bust in the NFL.