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Coach talk: K/P Chris Gulla

12/23/2012

What kind of player is Penn State getting here? And what can fans expect?

NittanyNation turned to the person who knows most what Chris Gulla is capable of on the field -- his high school coach -- and asked what separates him as a player, how he first noticed Gulla's ability and when he especially showcased his college potential.

Chris Gulla, Toms River (N.J.) North

6-foot-1, 180 pounds

Unrated

High school coach (quoted below): Chip LaBarca

What separates him from others at his position: "Chris has been starting for us since his freshman year, and he has an extremely strong leg. Unless there's a strong wind in his face, every kick is a touchback. He has a lot of poise -- he's the guy who wants to be down by two with five seconds left -- and he's just an outstanding young man and an outstanding student.

"And what I've told people is that I've been coaching for about 20 years and I've had a couple really good players, and I think Chris is an all-time player for me since I've been coaching. He's a once-in-a-career type of player."

When you first knew he would be something special: "I have a football camp, and when he was in the eighth grade he came there. We had a punt, pass and kick contest. We saw him kick and we were like, 'Woah -- he's not going on the freshman team; he's going on varsity.' That's the first time I saw him kick.

"He first played soccer, I think, and everyone was kicking the ball there OK and one guy's just kicking the ball really far -- and it was Chris. He's just a natural. The football just jumps off his foot."

When he surprised you or really showcased his ability: "Well, we've been leaning on Chris all year and he's also an excellent punter. He kicked off very well. But most memorable -- he made a game-winning field for us against Southern Regional, one of our rivals, and it was a 45-yarder.

"So we've been showcasing him the last four seasons and he's been outstanding. But I think that Southern game stands out. It was a game we weren't supposed to win. It was tied 14-14 with about a minute left, and I thought that kick was pretty impressive."