Matt Mengel kicking at the 2013 Western Winter Showcase. Video courtesy of Chris Sailer Kicking.
The mysterious departure of UCLA sophomore punter Sean Covington from the school’s football roster has opened up an opportunity for Long Beach City College transfer Matt Mengel, a coveted kicker who will most likely begin the season as the Bruins’ starter.
Mengel, who attended LBCC for the last two years, enters UCLA as a junior preferred walk-on, which will allow him to play immediately. He’ll have to try to replace Covington who earned honorable mention for the Pac 12’s all-conference team when he averaged 41.9 yards per punt. In addition to his punting duties, Covington also split kickoff duties.
The 6-foot-3, 220 pound Mengel is rated as one of the top kickers in the country and has received rave reviews from scouting services nationwide. Chris Sailer, a former two-time consensus all-american place kicker at UCLA and operator of the Chris Sailer Kicking Camp, ranks Mengel as the fourth best punter in his 2014 recruiting class.
“He has an NFL leg,” Sailer told scout.com in an interview. “Strongest leg I’ve seen since David Buehler [ex-USC place kicker who played for the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants]. Huge in kickoffs. Big potential as a field goal kicker and punter. The sky is the limit.”
UCLA, which was revealed as the number seven ranked team in the country according to USA Today’s preseason rankings, is entering a season that some experts predict could end in the inaugural college football playoff. Going into this season, the kicking game was considered to be settled with Covington and Kai’imi Fairbairn returning. However, it appears Mengel may be kicking off what could be a historic season in Westwood when the Bruins open play August 30 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Mengel is just one of 17 former Vikings who are transferring to four-year colleges, four of which will play for Division I programs. Defensive lineman David Davis (California), Shawn Turner (Rutgers), Nick Lehman (New Mexico) will join the kicker at the Division I level.
UCLA begins training camp Monday August 4 and plays their first game of the season August 30 at the University of Virginia.