Dustin Hopkins (Getty Images)
This is the 31st in a series of articles counting down the most important players for Florida State in 2012. There are 27 days until FSU football, and that's how many are left on the list. That means no off days. Oh, and these are not in any specific order.
Dustin Hopkins | 6'2, 190 | Senior | Kicker
Background (courtesy media guide)
Was the consensus top-rated kicker in the country coming out of high school...two-time Texas 5A All-State selection...USA Today first team All-American as a senior...participated in the Under Armour All-America game...like former FSU standout kickers Scott Bentley and Sebastian Janikowski, is a gifted athlete who also contributed to his Clear Lake High School team as a starter in the secondary...an outstanding high school student who boasted better than a 4.0 weighted GPA...selected FSU over Notre Dame, Missouri and Kansas State...born October 1, 1990.
Hopkins came in heralded as the top kicker recruit in the country. And he's pretty much lived up to the ranking.
He's hit 63 of 82 field goals during his three years, and his percentage has improved during each of his three seasons.
On kickoffs, Hopkins has been excellent, producing 39-percent touchbacks, while often kicking them high as well.
He hasn't been perfect. In the admittedly tiny sample set of "do or die" kicks (not "do or tie"), he is 0-2, missing makeable kicks against North Carolina and Virginia with no time remaining.
Still, Hopkins has made plenty of big kicks, and has been quite good from long distance. He's not a robot, but he is better than almost all of the other human kickers in college football.
In 2012, with the kickoff line moved up, some believe that Hopkins' impact will be diminished, since touchbacks are now taken to the 25. I'm not so sure. He'll be able to drill it deep whenever he wants, but Hopkins has also been quite good at kicking it high when he needs to. Don't be surprised if Jimbo Fisher calls on Hopkins to sky the ball and allow FSU's excellent coverage team to attempt a tackle inside the 25.
And since Hopkins is an excellent athlete, don't be surprised to see him make a tackle or two.
Hopkins has a chance to be an academic All-American and an All-American as well. He already has his degree, and also has a shot at the Lou Groza Award, given annually to the best collegiate kicker.