Lichtenstein returns to Heinz Field
by Michael Love
November 5, 2009
Ryan Lichtenstein has kicked at Heinz Field each of the past two football seasons.
In 2007 and 2008, he booted footballs for Gateway in the WPIAL Quad-A title game.
On Saturday, Lichtenstein returns to Heinz Field, this time at the collegiate level.
The Orange true freshman hopes to get a couple of opportunities to put points on the board as Syracuse plays the Pitt Panthers.
Kickoff is set for noon and Lichtenstein expects to have a lot of family and friends in the stands.
Older brother Matt, a former Gateway kicker and a senior at Princeton, is on fall break this weekend and will be at Heinz Field to watch the game.
"It definitely will be cool playing in front of family like that on Saturday," Ryan Lichtenstein said.
"Growing up in Pittsburgh, the chance to play at a place like Heinz Field was amazing. Having already played there twice, the awe is kind of no longer there."
Lichtenstein walked on to the Syracuse football team over the summer, hoping to make his mark wherever he could.
He was thrust into the starting place-kicking job when scholarship player Shane Raupers, another true freshman, left the team and left Lichtenstein as the No. 1 place kicker for the Orange.
Lichtenstein eventually was put on scholarship and took advantage of his chance.
In his debut against Minnesota at home, a 23-20 overtime loss, he made two field goals, including a 42-yard attempt.
Lichtenstein earned Big East Special Teams Player of the Week honors against Northwestern, as his three field goals, including a 41-yarder as time expired, lifted the Orange to a 37-34 victory.
"It's been a pretty amazing experience so far," he said.
"I wanted to come in and prove myself. I told the coaches all I wanted was a shot."
Lichtenstein said a lot of people, including his mom and dad and Gateway head coach Terry Smith, encouraged him to go to campus and do his best.
"This is an exciting time for Ryan to come back and for his family to see him play close to home," Smith said.
"He has experience at Heinz Field, so he can help his teammates with how the playing surface can be."
Lichtenstein credits Syracuse assistant head coach and special teams coach Bob Casullo for helping him throughout his first season with the Orange.
Casullo coached in the Super Bowl with Oakland in 2002 and Seattle in 2005 and also has NFL experience with Tampa Bay and the New York Jets.
"Coach Casullo has a great resume," Lichtenstein said. "He really knows what he's doing."
Lichtenstein also praised kicking coach Gary Zauner, who worked with him in the spring and summer before he came to Syracuse.
Zauner coached in the NFL for 13 seasons with Minnesota, Baltimore and Arizona. He currently is the special teams coordinator for the California Redwoods of the new United Football League.
"I don't know where I would be with out (coach Zauner's) help and advice," Lichtenstein said. "He changed my form and how I kick. He helped me out a lot."
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