Texas Tech kicker Jonathan Garibay declares for NFL Draft

·4 min read

Jonathan Garibay made plenty of memories in his senior year.

Now, the 6-foot-1, 215-pound kicker is hoping to do the same at the professional level, declaring for the 2022 NFL Draft on Sunday in an announcement posted to social media.

“I want to thank my friends and family for the love and support throughout my career,” Garibay said in a post to his Twitter account. “A huge thank you to Coach (Matt) Wells and his staff for giving me the opportunity to further my academic and athletic career here at Texas Tech. Not only did it change my life, but it also changed my family’s life. Thank you to my teammates for helping me create unbelievable memories and relationships that will last for a lifetime.

Texas Tech's Jonathan Garibay (46) kicks the ball before the team’s NCAA football game against Baylor on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021 at John Eddie Williams Field at McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas.
Texas Tech's Jonathan Garibay (46) kicks the ball before the team’s NCAA football game against Baylor on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021 at John Eddie Williams Field at McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas.

“I truly found a second family here at Texas Tech. Another thank you to Coach (Joey) McGuire and his staff for being patient and supportive throughout this whole process. Last but not least, thank you to all Red Raider Nation for the awesome support this whole season. You are truly the best fans in the country. With that being said, I would like to announce that I will be declaring for the 2022 NFL Draft.”

More: Plenty to ponder: Bowl game, big decision, another surgery await Tech kicker

Before his announcement Sunday, Garibay was one of a dozen Tech seniors who had a choice whether to stay with the Red Raiders for an extra senior year, the one the NCAA granted all players for the COVID-disrupted 2020 season.

"I've talked to the new (Joey McGuire) staff and they want me to return," Garibay told Don Williams of the Avalanche-Journal back in December. "At the same time, whatever decision I make, they're very supportive about it. Which is a good thing. But I still have not made a decision.

"I won't make an announcement until either after the bowl game or when we come back from break. I've got to weigh some pros and cons and talk to some people, but right now I'll just finish the bowl game and then think about that."

The former Riverside City College standout is one of three Red Raiders with eligibility remaining to declare for the upcoming NFL Draft, joining center Dawson Deaton and wide receiver Erik Ezukanma.

The 2022 NFL Draft will take place April 28-30 from Las Vegas, Nevada.

Garibay had plenty of reasons to stay or go following two seasons with Texas Tech. He turned into one of the top kickers in college football, connecting on 23 of his 27 field goal attempts during that span and 55-of-57 PATs — securing the starting spot late in the 2020 campaign after making four field goals, including a 25-yard game-winner at the end of regulation.

More: Texas Tech's Garibay drills 25-yard, game-winning FG to down Baylor

Last season, he garnered first-team All-Big 12 recognition from The Associated Press after making 15 of 16 field goals — which led the Big 12 and ranked sixth nationally for field goal percentage (93.8%). It included game-winning kicks of 32 yards to beat West Virginia and 62 yards to beat Iowa State, the latter being the longest successful kick in FBS history to decide a game in the final minute.

More: Watch Texas Tech's Jonathan Garibay hit a 62-yard game-winning field goal vs. Iowa State

The historic game-winner secured him an endorsement deal from Church's Chicken, one he was able to accept now that state laws and the NCAA allow college athletes to monetize their name, image and likeness.

Over a video that showed him eating dinner, he tweeted, "This new Spicy Bacon Chicken Sandwich has a kick that seals the deal."

Garibay was perfect on field goals all season until the regular-season finale, a 27-24 loss at Baylor. He had a shot to force overtime as the clock ran out, but his 53-yarder curled just left of the upright.

In the Liberty Bowl, Garibay connected on field goals of 31 and 26 yards, while making all four of his extra points, to help the Red Raiders defeat Mississippi State to claim the program's first bowl win since 2013.

Garibay made his first 13 field goals of the season, matching the Tech record for most-consecutive successful attempts set by Clayton Hatfield during the 2018 season. And with two field goals in the Liberty Bowl, he moved past Hatfield for the highest career field goal percentage in school history, finishing at 85.2%. Hatfield made 84.7%.

More: Quieting the cowbells: Red Raiders wallop Leach, Mississippi State in Liberty Bowl

The Texas Tech kicker was born in Santa Ana, California, but before Garibay's first birthday, his family moved to the state of Michoacan in south-central Mexico. They moved back to southern California at the beginning of Jonathan's third-grade school year. His official Texas Tech roster biography bills him from Rubodoux, California — about 50 minutes east of Los Angeles.

A majority of his family members still live in Mexico.

This article originally appeared on Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Texas Tech kicker Jonathan Garibay declares for NFL Draft