2017 Professional Award Winner
The All Sports Association proudly welcomes NFL placekicker Graham Gano of the Carolina Panthers as our 2017 Professional Award winner. Raised in Pensacola, Graham is a graduate of Tate High School and 2009 graduate of Florida State University, where he holds the FSU single-season record for 50-yard field goals with five straight. His NFL career has included stops with the Baltimore Ravens, Washington Redskins and his current spot with the Panthers where he earned the opportunity to compete in SuperBowl 50 last February. The son of U.S. Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Mark Gano, Graham was born in Scotland and soon moved to Pensacola. He starred in football and track for the Tate Aggies and finished his high school career with three field goals over 55 yards (57, 64, and 65 yards). A converted 71-yarder was negated by a penalty on the offense (for the record, the NFL record is 64 yards). Following the 2005 season, he was named All-American First Team kicker by USA Today and was the third-ranked kicker in the country. A standout sprinter, he also earned three FHSAA 3A state track titles, winning the 100m dash (10.55 seconds), the 200m dash (21.70) and the 400m (48.00).
At Florida State, Gano primarily served as punter his first three years and his play was limited until his senior year—when he flourished. He converted 24 of 26 field goals (92.3%) and was the first FSU kicker to convert at least 90% of his field goals in a season. He led the ACC in field goals per game with a 2.2 average and led all NCAA kickers in scoring with 105 points (9.5 per game). His efforts earned him the Lou Groza Award as the top kicker in the country. As a punter, he became the only punter to be named the MVP of a bowl game in the 2008 Champs Sports Bowl.
In 2009, he signed with the Ravens before joining the Las Vegas Locomotives of the UFL, where he scored the league’s first points on a 32-yarder and finished the year as the league leader in scoring. He soon joined the Redskins and hit his first NFL field goal at 46 yards. In 2010, he connected on three overtime game-winning field goals. The following season, Gano’s 59-yarder set the franchise record for the Redskins.
After joining the Panthers during the 2012 season, Gano converted all six attempts of 50+ yards with a long of 55 yards, solidifying him as a leading NFL kicker. His 52-yarder against the Colts in the 2015 season lifted the Panthers to their first 7-0 start. His second walk-off winner of that season against the Giants moved the Panthers to a 14-0 record. His 146 points in 2015 broke John Kasay’s team record for a season. He led the NFL in touchbacks (69) and average kickoff distance (72.0 yards).
This past season, Graham hit 27 of his 32 attempts less than 50 yards. In addition to his placekicking abilities, he contributed four punts for the Panthers this season, averaging 45.0 yards per punt, and contributed to four tackles. To date, Gano has a career 80% field goal conversion rate, with 30 of his 227 attempts (13.2%) coming at a distance of greater than 50 yards.
Graham and his lovely wife, Brittany, met while attending Florida State and are the proud parents of two young boys. We welcome them back to Northwest Florida and our 48th Annual All Sports Banquet. And we congratulate Graham for earning his current status as one of the NFL’s most dependable kickers — as well as being named our 2017 Professional Award winner.