Tulsa was a field goal kicker away from bowling last season. There just isn't any other way to put it.

If Tulsa makes game-winning, potential walk-off field goal attempts at SMU and against ranked Memphis, Tulsa is 6-6 instead of 4-8.

That is the fine line between going to a bowl and having a disappointing season.

Certainly, all the problems of the season weren't because of the kicking game. But in order for TU football to have the season it expects, place kicking must improve. That is the bottom line.

The good news is that help has arrived. Tulsa signed a kicker to a letter of intent for the first time in many years, as Tyler Tipton from Little Elm, Texas, is competing for the starting kicking job with Zack Long.

The 6-foot-3, 183-pound Tipton hit 13 of 14 field goals as a senior, with his longest being a 55-yarder, and made all of his extra point attempts. Also included was a game-winning 48-yarder as time expired against Frisco Liberty.

Tipton's recruiting visit to Tulsa came on the weekend when TU missed a 29-yard chip shot to upset ranked Memphis. Tipton was offered a scholarship the next day, and accepted.

There are videos of Tipton hitting from up to 65 yards in practice. He was ranked 25th nationally among high school kicking recruits.

"We're going to have a good battle, because we brought Tyler Tipton in," TU coach Philip Montgomery said at the start of fall camp. "I think this is a kid who has a tremendous ceiling. He's got great pop off of his foot."

Tipton will be competing with 5-10, 172-pound senior walk-on Zack Long, who handled all but three kickoff attempts in 2019, with nine touchbacks.

"Those guys are going to have a terrific battle right there,' Montgomery said of Long and Tipton. "We'll see how it works out. I'm excited to watch it.

"I'm excited to see them kind of put pressure on each other. We obviously have to be more consistent and more explosive in that phase of the game. But I think we've got a couple of guys right here who can really step up to that challenge and get it done."

Long had the unenviable task of attempting a 42-yarder on the first possession of the third overtime at game six at SMU, the possession after a 43-yarder by Jacob Rainey would have won the game. Long missed on his only field goal attempt of the year.

The fact that Long was even playing football last season is amazing, considering he had never played football until walking on to the team in the spring of 2019. Long, from Pacific, Missouri, was already a student at TU when he made the decision to play football.

"I thought Zack Long did a tremendous job on kickoffs," Montgomery said. "Really his first football type of experience, and a guy who I thought stepped up and did some really good things, has continued to work on his field goal and extra points.