Kicking can be the least comprehensive aspect of the game of football, yet it can be the most critical.
Kickers tend to be called onto the field during their teams’ most crucial moments, and UNLV football’s six-year kicker Daniel Gutierrez has shown to be automatic for the Rebels. Many times throughout Gutierrez’s career, the Rebels have relied on him to keep them in the game.
“He’s an automatic man, and he’s done an awesome job,” head coach Marcus Arroyo said of Gutierrez. “We’ve put a lot of pressure on him at practice and he’s put a lot of pressure on himself. We obviously couldn’t get it done without him.”
Gutierrez has earned his bachelor’s degree in management and is completing his final season with the Rebels. He will play his final home game as a Rebel at 3 p.m. Saturday when UNLV faces in-state rival UNR in its regular season finale at Allegiant Stadium. His next made field goal will make him all-time leader in UNLV football history.
The Los Angeles native is the most accurate kicker in UNLV football history with an 86% make rate (49 of 57 attempts). He holds the school record for 16 consecutive made field goals (2020-21) and has made his last 14.
This season, Gutierrez is a perfect 12 of 12 on his field goal attempts, has converted on all 30 of his extra point attempts, and has been named Mountain West Special Teams Player of the week twice this season. With a field goal in the first quarter against Hawaii on Saturday, Gutierrez became the school’s all-time leading scorer.
“My team influences me a lot,” Gutierrez said. “I feel like I surround myself with the right people and they keep me motivated.”
Earning his spot at UNLV
Gutierrez’s journey to UNLV has been a long, yet rewarding one. He graduated from Granada Hills Charter High School in 2017, where he was a three-year letter winner.
Gutierrez then went to Los Angeles Valley College for a couple of days, before UNLV called him up for a walk-on tryout. At that tryout, there were three other kickers going for the one spot the Rebels had. He earned the spot.
In 2017, he gained his first letter for UNLV by appearing in all 12 games. That year he was also named the Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week on Oct. 30 after scoring 14 in the Rebels’ 26-16 win over first-place Fresno State.
In 2018, Gutierrez redshirted the season, but in 2019 he earned the team’s starting kicking spot. He led the Rebels in scoring with 68 points.
Last season was a special year for Gutierrez, as he was surprised with a full-ride scholarship in August during a fall camp practice at Allegiant Stadium.
“It was a moment I will never forget at UNLV,” Gutierrez said. “It was awesome to see how happy my teammates were for me after seeing it on camera, and my mom and grandma cried when I told them the news.”
It was in 2021 that he set the school record for 16 consecutive made field goals. He finished with a career-high 73 points scored, the second most on the team.
Gút the ‘inspiration’
For Gutierrez, football isn’t just a game. He is dedicated and has a huge drive for success, for one reason: his family.
“Growing up was hard, most people where I’m from, you don’t really do what I’m doing,” Gutierrez said. “I’m the first person in my family to go to college, be put on scholarship, and make it this far, I feel like I’m really putting it on for my family.”
Gutierrez, better known to his teammates as “Gút” (Goot), is an inspiration to many, including sophomore punter Charlton Butt.
“He has a great way of locking in when it’s time to do it,” Butt said. “He can balance those mental trials. When it’s time to go versus when it’s time to not work on your craft as much. He’s an inspiration to me.”
When it comes to relying on Gutierrez, not only does Arroyo look to him, but so does the rest of the team. This includes junior punter and backup kicker Ryan O’Hara, who credited Gutierrez for showing him the ropes when O’Hara transferred to UNLV.
“I have faith in Danny no matter what,” O’Hara said. “I know he’s going to be able to put the ball through the uprights. It’s always exciting to watch it happen and watch him break some records.”
Finishing off a successful career
Although Gutierrez has been with the Rebels for six years, he says he doesn’t have a favorite memory. Instead, what he will remember the most is being around the guys who make him smile and laugh every day.
When Gutierrez isn’t playing or spending time with the team, he spends his time painting. A new passion and love he picked up.
“When COVID first started, I picked up my first street sign,” Gutierrez said. “I just kept practicing and two years later I’ve sold a bunch of paintings. It’s something I love to do every day.”
Those around Gutierrez are confident he will be successful in every aspect of life. Whether it be trying to continue his football career at a professional level or other business aspects.
“I’ll try to make the NFL but if that doesn’t work out, I do have a plan of opening up a restaurant with my family and owning a bunch of properties,” Gutierrez said.
Not only does Gutierrez do his job on the field, but off the field, everyone around him knows him for being an outstanding person. Gutierrez will always remember how he got to where he is and love the people who helped him along the way.
“My family has supported me in every game whether I’ve performed poorly or at my highest, but especially my parents, they work very hard and if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here, ” Gutierrez said. “I owe it all back to them.”