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Sun Devil returns home: Cristian Zendejas announces return to ASU

The kicker, whose family has a long legacy as kickers at ASU and UArizona, had entered the transfer portal in January.

TEMPE, Ariz. — ASU kicker Cristian Zendejas had announced his intent to leave the program where his family's name became famous, but is out of the transfer portal and back with the Sun Devils, according to an Instagram post from his account. 

"I'm back, ONLY by the grace of God! Ready to GLORIFY his name," the caption to the post reads.  

It is not clear if Zendejas will be available for the Sun Devils' opening game against Southern Utah on Thursday night. ASU has named senior Logan Tyler as the starting kicker, but Zendejas is expected to immediately compete for the job.  

It also appears that Zendejas will change his number from 45 to 8. 

Zendejas played high school football at Perry High School in Gilbert. In his senior season, he made 10 of 11 field goals, with a long of 47 yards and 67 of 70 extra points. He was named to the 6A All-Premier Region First Team. 

The 5-foot-8-inch, 185-pound kicker walked on at ASU and earned a scholarship in 2019 during his redshirt freshman season. 

In 2019, Zendejas was 20th nationally in field goal percentage (85.2%) and made 23 field goals. That was the most in the Pac-12 (7th-most in the nation), and sixth-most in a single season for an ASU kicker. He was also named the Sun Bowl Special Teams after matching a Sun Bowl record with four field goals, which held ASU beat Florida State 20-14.  

Going into the 2020 season, Zendejas was named to the Lou Groza Award watch list. The award is given out every year to the top kicker in the country. 

However, in the pandemic-shortened season, Zendejas only hit two of his four field-goal attempts and finished the season battling for the starting kicker job with former ASU kicker Jack Lackhurst.   

Kicking is a passion for the Zendejas family. 

Cristian's father, Luis, is an ASU legend, who went on to kick in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles. 

Cristian's uncles, Joaquin, Max and Alan are also kickers. 

Joaquin kicked at LaVerne College in California and in the NFL for the New England Patriots.  

Max kicked for the Arizona Wildcats and in the NFL for The Washington Football Team and Green Bay Packers. 

Alan Zendejas followed in Luis' footsteps by kicking for the Sun Devils. 

But it doesn't stop there. 

Joaquin, Luis, Max and Alan's cousins, Tony and Martin Zendejas, are also kickers. They both kicked at the University of Nevada-Reno. Tony had the longest NFL career in the family: 11 years. He kicked for the Houston Oilers, Los Angeles Rams, Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers.  

Cristian's return comes as the NCAA's investigation into ASU's possible recruiting violations makes an impact on the 2022 class. Four-star defensive back Alfonzo Allen de-committed from ASU on Saturday, which leaves ASU with just 5 recruits in their 2022 class, the fewest among schools in the Power 5 conferences (SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Big XII and Pac-12). 

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