USC Gamecocks Football

Who’s responsible for Parker White’s turnaround? This former Gamecock kicking great

When most Gamecock fans remember Parker White’s freshman season, they recall a maddeningly inconsistent kicker who had plenty of leg but struggled mightily at times to put the ball through the uprights.

All told, White made just four of 14 field goal attempts from 40 or more yards en route to a 56 percent make rate, 104th among 108 qualified kickers.

But amid that trying season, there was a field goal attempt White can recall well — a 40-yard make early in the fourth quarter of South Carolina’s rivalry game with Clemson, a game USC lost 34-10.

That kick was the start of a stretch, still ongoing, in which White has hit 16 of 19 field goal attempts, an 84.2 percent rate. In 2018 alone, his 86.7 percent rate ranks tied for 12th in the nation and tied for third in the SEC.

“I remember Clemson was like a (40-yarder), and I didn’t make too many of those last year, so that was a big confidence booster,” White said. “And so ever since that kick I think I’ve been confident, and also the work I put in in the offseason has been really beneficial.”

There have been several keys to White’s dramatic improvement — for one, coach Will Muschamp has only had him attempt three field goals of 40 or more yards, and he’s continued to hammer home chip shots.

But even on those longer attempts, White’s make rate is up. Part of that is a more focused, simplified approach, he said.

“It’s more or less going one kick at a time and really focusing on my job,” White said. “I think freshman year, a lot of times I maybe focused on what stadium we were in or what uniforms we were wearing, but this year I’ve kinda focused mainly on just being where my feet are and taking it one kick at a time.”

Perhaps most key, however, has been White’s offseason work with another Gamecock kicking great — Ryan Succop, now with the NFL’s Tennessee Titans. Succop ranks third all-time in South Carolina program history in both field goals made and field goals attempted.

“One of the main things is he taught me a pretty good warmup to do as far as stretching and a good routine with that,” White said. “But also like some technique things, some specifics like steps and those technical details. Obviously he’s a very talented kicker and one of the best in the league.”

Succop currently ranks 11th in the NFL in field goals made this season and 15th in field goal percentage. He also ranks 11th among active kickers in field goals made and 54th in league history.

Despite Succop’s schedule as a professional and the fact that he and White never came close to overlapping at USC, the two have still exchanged texts throughout the season, another boost for White in his bounce-back campaign.

And though the two have yet to speak this week ahead of White facing off against the same team that sparked his turnaround, White does have an easy way of keeping up with Succop.

“I see that he’s doing pretty well. I got him on my fantasy team,” White said.