Arizona Christian Internet Sensation, “Manny”, Starting From The Bottom Again

Story by Nathan Peterson

Nestor Higuera, also known as “Manny”, rode the waves of internet sensation at the end of last season as he was the deciding factor for ACU football.

His kick, as most of the country knows, gave Arizona Christian its first ever Sooner Athletic Conference Championship and playoff berth.

In a tied game, Higuera nailed a 46-yard field goal as time expired against SAGU that crowned ACU as SAC Champs. Following the kick, the spotlight on Higuera has been through social media and a healthy serving of interviews from numerous media outlets. 

As the internet fame has subsided, Manny has looked to move on, knowing that what happened last season doesn’t matter anymore. Manny knows nothing will be handed to him. 

“In the spring, going to summer and going to the fall they can bring someone else. They can bring a transfer in that could be better than me. So I just took it as okay, I got to start from the bottom again. So I just knew that I just have to perform again,” Higuera said knowing that nothing is permanent in his role on the team. 

The 5-foot-5, 275-pound kicker is not your traditional kicker as most of the sports world knows by now. Last season, Higuera’s role grew on the team as he became a leader in the locker room going into his sophomore year. Taking over the kickoff, field goal, and PAT duties gave him the opportunity to show that it is his job to lose. 

On kickoffs, Higuera averaged 57.3 yards to go along with 14 touchbacks. He was 97.9 percent on PAT’s, barely missing his very first PAT against SAGU. He made up for that though with “The Kick”. Overall, Higuera was 7-11 with a long of 46 yards on field goals last season.

So, what’s next for the kicker from Paradise Valley High School as he goes into his junior year?

“My personal life hasn’t changed except for my social media,” Higuera said. “I am still the same old, same old. I am still more reserved and don’t talk to many people. My close friends know who I am.” 

The biggest change Higuera saw was in his social media following. Between his Instagram and Twitter, he saw an increase of around 4,000 new followers combined after his viral kick. 

With an upbeat in his social media following, it puts more attention on the Firestorm kicker.

“It’s just like what the pros and famous people have to deal with,” Higuera said. “They would be doing something right but in someone else’s eyes could be doing something wrong. I understand now why professional athletes or even famous people do what they do. I lived in their shoes somewhat and now I have to be careful with what I post.”

Going into next season with an increase in social media presence or not, Higuera understands he is in control of what he does.

“I’m not seeking attention from people. I just let my work do all the talking,” he exclaimed. “I am not going to go out there and say that I am the best, I don’t like that. I like to show with my work that I am the best. I’m not saying it, I’m doing it.”

Higuera and the Firestorm look to open their season at home against Lincoln University on August 28th.