Arizona State kicker Dario Longhetto applies golf lessons to football field

Arizona State's Dario Longhetto isn't just a kicker, he's an avid golfer too and he's hoping lessons he learned there will carry over to the gridiron.

Three years ago the transfer from Cal was reading the book "Golf is not a Game of Perfect." It resonated with him because of the similarities of the two sports.

"There's a lot of similar characteristics, even physical to the game of golf and kicking from swing planes to keeping your head down, and the mental game, taking one shot a at a time," Longhetto said, after wrapping up practice Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium. "It's a fantastic book. It revolutionized the way I took the game, approached the game, helped me elevate my game to be able to play at the Power 5 level."

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Longhetto has kept the book at hand and gotten his fellow specialists to read it as well so they can discuss the nuances of both sports. The specialists have a close-knit bond. All are transfers and sixth-year seniors.

With the ASU coaching change in December came considerable turnover, nowhere more than the specialist room which saw two scholarship kickers, one non-scholarship kicker, two long snappers and a punter hit the transfer portal.

Longhetto was among the replacements brought in by special teams coordinator and assistant head coach Charlie Ragle. The others included long snapper Slater Zellers, Longhetto's former teammate and roommate at Cal, and punter Josh Carlson, a native of Gilbert who transferred from New Mexico State.

Specialists aren't often noticed unless something goes awry. Kickers have rare moments to make an impact and sometimes that comes in the closing seconds of a game with the outcome hanging in the balance, thus the mental part of the game which is stressed in Longhetto's favorite book.


"It's on the fundamentals of performing under pressure, not allowing the moment to be too big for you trusting yourself, trusting the process, " he said. "For me it been perfecting the mental process that goes into every kick."

Longhetto, a native of Newbury Park, California, comes with a proven track record. He was the second-leading scorer last season for the Bears with 64 points, those coming on an 11-for-16 effort on field goals as well as a 31-for-32 mark on PAT kicks.

Over 31 games at Cal he was 26-for-36 on field goal tries, perhaps his best game coming in 2021 against Stanford when he made all four tries, the longest for 49 and 51 yards.

Ironically it was Zellers that committed to ASU first, doing so in early December just about the time the two were moving out of their apartment. It wasn't until a month later when Carter Brown hit the portal that the Sun Devils were in need of a kicker. Brown had handled all the kicking chores as a true freshmen but ended up transferring to Cincinnati.


The tie for both Zellers and Longhetto was Ragle, who had coached the two in their early years at Cal.

"They needed a long snapper immediately," Longhetto said. "We were talking saying wouldn't that be great if we could both go there and then life works out that way sometimes. When it's meant to happen, it happens."

Ragle is excited about the group of specialists with whom he is working and appreciates Longhetto's approach to the sport.

"He's a very dialed in young man, his consistency and how he approaches the game," Ragle said. "All those guys are really like, they're skilled guys. There is a lot of mental to that. They certainly have some physical tools but there's a big mental piece and we spend a lot of time working on that. He's a guy that's been through that, taken live reps, played in a lot of games. I would expect him to come out here and do what he's done and I'm pleased with where he's at."


Longhetto says the transition has been a seamless one. It's nice to have the same long snapper with whom he is used to working, not to mention a coach with whom there is familiarity as well.

Carlson, a product of Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep, has been working as the holder on kick attempts.

"We've all been around for so long it's a well oiled machine. I think we're ready to go and do our job every single time we get on the field.

"Kicking is so much of a rhythm. It's the same process over and over and when you have that mastered, it's one less thing you have to worry about. There's no variability. Having that opportunity to do that with him the last five seasons, going into our sixth season is great. It's going to elevate the special teams group here and the team," Longhetto said.


Ragle didn't have to work hard to sell the opportunity.

"One of his biggest selling points to me. Eight home games. You're in elevation, barely any wind. It's a kickers' paradise. You had a lot of good kickers come in and out of ASU so I just want to be another one of those," Longhetto said.

Harrison's new number

Redshirt freshman defensive lineman Robbie Harrison is among the ASU players who have changed their number, with Harrison going from 93 to 4, the number worn last year by the departed nose tackle Nesta Jade Silvera.

Harrison said he wanted to rep his home of Greenville, South Carolina, whose area code is 864 so the 4 is the last digit of that. His younger sister Adriana also played a part. He has asked her which number she preferred and she responded with 4.


Harrison said he also had the blessing of Silvera, with whom he has remained in touch.

"He told me you better go get that," Harrison laughed.

Odds and ends

  • Head coach Kenny Dillingham threw out the first pitch at Friday night's baseball game against rival Arizona. After Thursday's practice he had said he planned on throwing a strike. Asked if that materialized Dillingham replied, "not even close." The entire team went to the game as well.

  • Among those who continued to impress was tight end Jalin Conyers who had a pair of touchdown catches, one of them a nifty one-handed grab.

  • Among those taking in practice was former tight end Curtis Hodges, who wrapped up his playing career in the fall of 2021 and signed with the Washington Commanders as a free agent after the 2022 draft.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: ASU kicker Dario Longhetto applies golf lessons to football field