The Mississippi State football team made a big addition when junior college kicker Gabriel Plascencia committed to play for the school Monday.
But Plascencia’s transfer cost the Bulldogs their incumbent kicker.
Redshirt freshman Nolan McCord, inserted into the placekicker position beginning Nov. 6 at Arkansas, announced Thursday night he had entered the transfer portal. McCord has four years of eligibility remaining.
The Lilburn, Georgia, product went 9 of 16 on field goals this season for the Bulldogs. With fifth-year senior Brandon Ruiz ineffective and dealing with an injury, McCord’s first kick was a 40-yard tying attempt in Fayetteville, which he missed.
He went 1 of 2 the following week in a comeback win over Auburn and made both field goals against Tennessee State on Nov. 20. But in the Egg Bowl rivalry game against Ole Miss, McCord went just 2 of 4 on field goals. He finished 23 of 23 on extra points in 2021, though.
McCord was effective from shorter distances, hitting all three attempts from inside 30 yards. But he was 5 of 7 on field goals of between 30 and 39 yards and just 1 of 6 on 40-to-49-yard kicks.
Neither he or Ruiz will return in 2022, as the one-time Arizona State transfer announced Dec. 29 he would forgo a final year of eligibility and declare for the NFL draft.
But the Bulldogs should be in capable hands with Plascencia, a transfer from the College of San Mateo in California. The Oakland native made 14 of his 21 field goals during the 2021 season, including a long of 51 yards.
Plascencia made that kick in a game against Modesto in which he went 6 for 6 on field goals; in no other game did he even attempt more than two. He made 12 of his final 14 attempts after a 1-for-7 start.
Mississippi State will have to hope Plascencia will be the solution to kicking woes that cost the Bulldogs a chance to win at Arkansas and hurt them in several other games. MSU made just 14 of its 25 field goals this season, ranking No. 124 out of 130 FBS teams.
Theo DeRosa reports on Mississippi State sports for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @Theo_DeRosa.