Kicker is joining Utah’s football program as a graduate transfer from UCLA

Andrew Strauch will compete for the chance to replace NFL draftee Matt Gay.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Place Kicher Jadon Redding, attempts a field goal, in Utah's spring Red-White game at Rice-Eccles Stadium, Saturday, April 13, 2019.

Andrew Strauch, who kicked six extra points and a field goal in UCLA’s 2016 loss to Utah, is joining the Utes as a graduate transfer with one year of eligibility remaining, he announced Wednesday.

The left-footed Strauch will compete with freshman walk-on Jadon Redding for Utah’s kicking job, after former Lou Groza Award winner Matt Gay was drafted by Tampa Bay in the fifth round last weekend. The Utes were looking for a kicker after Chayden Johnston announced April 18 that he was giving up football to focus on pursuing a career as a health professional.

Johnston had three years of eligibility remaining as a scholarship kicker. Utah coach Kyle Whittingham had named him the starter following spring practice. Johnston and Redding both kicked inconsistently in two major scrimmages and the Red-White Game and Whittingham described Utah’s kicking as “a work in progress.”

Aside from that 52-45 loss to the Utes at the Rose Bowl in 2016, when he kicked a 39-yard field goal, Strauch had few opportunities to perform in a game during his four seasons (including a redshirt year) in UCLA’s program. Former coach Jim Mora briefly benched scholarship kicker J.J. Molson, then went back to him. Strauch kicked three other extra points and missed his only other field-goal attempt for the Bruins.

Strauch, from Piedmont (Calif.) High School, also punted three times for the Bruins. Johnston likely would have been Utah’s backup punter, behind freshman Ben Lennon, so Strauch may fill that role.

Redding is from Fredricksburg, Va., where he kicked a 52-yard field goal in high school as a senior in 2017. He attended a community college in New York to improve his grades during the 2018 fall semster, while sitting out of football, and sought an opportunity at a four-year school. He enrolled at Utah in January.

Earlier this week, Marshall offensive lineman Alex Locklear announced he would join the Utes as a graduate transfer. Penn State transfer Manny Bowen earned a starting position at linebacker in spring practice; he also has one season to play at Utah.