the study of the kicking components within sports

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Kickoffs On The Move Again

A century after the first change, kickoffs are once again on the move.

1912: The starting point of all kickoffs was moved back from the 50 to the 40-yard line.

1974: Kickoffs were moved from the 40 back to the 35-yard line.

1994: The starting point of all kickoffs was moved back from the 35 to the 30-yard line.

2011: Kickoffs will move from the 30 to the 35-yard line, reversing the previous pattern of farther distances. Although it had been suggested to move touchbacks to the 25-yard line, they will continue to be spotted at the 20-yard line. Players on the coverage team will also now be limited to a five yard running start before the kicker makes contact with the ball.

Several current NFL kickers weighed in with their thoughts on the recent changes...

Joe Nedney, San Francisco 49ers
"That move to the 30 (yard line) is kind of what got me into the NFL. It invented the kickoff specialist."

Graham Gano, Washington Redskins
"It will be easier to hit touchbacks. If we’re playing against, say, a Devin Hester [star Chicago Bears returner] it will be easier to just kick it out of the end zone.... I think it [limited run-up] will be good, too, because we’re good at hanging it up there and getting our guys down and making plays. I think we’ll still be able to do that. We’ll just be putting it further down field and we’ll get a head start.”

Ryan Longwell, Minnesota Vikings
"Obviously, I was pretty excited when I heard about it. I think John Kasay [who is 41] actually put it best. He’s been trying to get to age 22 again all these years but he can’t, so moving it up 5 yards certainly kind of does that for you. All of a sudden the goal line is in reach to open up some strategy stuff that you can pad it in the end zone, you can kick it in the corner with some higher hang time and stuff the team down there. I was certainly excited about it. The way my career has gone, I’ve been blessed to play this long. I would think that this could give me some more years at the end of this.... We’ve been directional kicking, so it’s a little misleading with where it’s going to the corners. I always felt that my normal ball I could get to the 1- or 2-yard line, when you’re swinging away down the middle and having decent hang time. When you move it up 5 yards, naturally you train a little different in the offseason to be able to hit the quote-unquote home run ball. It’s within range now. ... I’ve talked to a bunch of older kickers around the league in the last couple of days and we’re all kind of excited about it because naturally it helps us all."

Robbie Gould, Chicago Bears
"Teams will still say, 'We're good enough in coverage, go ahead and bring it out, try to return it, and if you get to the 16, 17 or 18, it's [OK]'. If the kick goes 4 yards deep with 4.0 hang time, returners are definitely going to run it out. Touchbacks will definitely go up but I don't necessarily think, because the kicks are going to be deeper, that there will stop being returns."

David Buehler, Dallas Cowboys
"It puts me five yards closer of achieving my goal on every kickoff which is booming it deep in the end zone and forcing the opposing team to drive 80 yards on our defense. It's also easier at shutting down some of the electrifying returners they've got in the game these days."

Jay Feely, Arizona Cardinals
"Personally, I’m very happy about it. I think all the veteran kickers are happy about it. I do think it will definitely take some excitement out of the game. It eliminates good returns from guys like LaRod (Stephens-Howling), Devin Hester, Leon Washington.... I can see [touchbacks] doubling from last year. If you take kicks that were 3 to 5 yards deep last year, now they are eight to 10 yards deep and will not returned. It's possible though that returners will take more chances."

Billy Cundiff, Baltimore Ravens
"I don't see why the majority of teams don't try to kick the ball six- or seven-yards into the end zone. I think it's a very good rule change for the kickoff team, and not a good rule change for the kickoff return team. Obviously, I'm excited. It's the first time they made a rule that benefits a kicker. [But] fans don't like to see kickers kick the ball into the end zone all the time for touchbacks.... I think the guys who may have been run out of the league before because of kickoff issues, they may stay a little longer.... Like all other rules, what they think initially may not actually happen. You have to be careful what you incentive-ize. Now they're incentive-izing touchbacks."
Josh Scobee, Jacksonville Jaguars
"Thank you NFL for the rule change, moving kickoffs to the 35. It'll feel like college again! #bombsaway"

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Kicking Australian Style

This Thursday is the kickoff of the 2011 AFL season, where the "A" stands for Australian and not Arena. But that doesn't mean Americans cannot also enjoy the following clips featuring AFL players demonstrating various kicks. We live in a global world, as evidenced by the fact that one of the featured players crossed the ocean and is now a punter in the NFL.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Southern Kicking, part 2

Last week we previewed eight of this year's kickers in the Southern Indoor Football League. With 16 teams in the league (actually now only 15 after some late breaking news), that leaves with eight more kickers to discuss:

Harrisburg Stampede, J.R. Cipra (Ohio Northern)
"Cipra, a four-time All-Pro kicker, who has led league kickers in scoring three straight seasons, has been signed by the Harrisburg Stampede. In 2010 Cipra helped lead the Baltimore Mariners to an undefeated national championship with several key field goals. Cipra first gained notice as a kicker for Mayfield High School of Mayfield Heights, Ohio. He twice was named to the All-Greater Cleveland Conference team and as a senior in 1996 was named second team All-State. He then went on to letter for four seasons at Ohio Northern University where he was named All-Ohio Athletic Conference in 1999 and 2000, received national player of the week honors in 2000, and was named Division 3 All-American as a senior. He still holds a host of Ohio Northern records including longest field goal (47 yards) and most field goals in a career (19). Cipra made his pro debut with the Peoria Pirates of the Arena Football League 2 (af2) in 2001. Between 2005 and 2008 he shuffled between Erie, Pennsylvania and Canton, Ohio playing for Erie in 2005, 2007, and 2008 and the Canton Legends in 2006 and part of 2007. With Canton he won his first league championship. In 2009 he signed with the Baltimore Mariners."
Houston Stallions, Jon Thompson (Bluffton)
"Thompson was named to the Watch List for the 2009 Fred Mitchell Award. He led the Beavers in scoring in 2008, going 10-of-10 on PAT's and 7-for-11 on field goals. He was named second team All-Heartland Conference. After scoring 11 points in Bluffton's 23-15 victory over Kalamazoo on Sept. 27, 2008, he was selected HCAC Special Teams Player of the Week. Thompson was also active in community service during his time at Bluffton. He assisted with flood prevention efforts during the March 9, 2009 crisis, working with the football team to fill bags with nearly 18 tons of sand. In addition, Thompson raised funds and awareness for victims of domestic and family violence in the Crossroads Crisis Center’s Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event and he volunteered to beautify the grounds of the Maple Crest and Mennonite Memorial Home."
Lafayette Wildcatters, John Corbello (LSU)
"The second season of the Lafayette Wildcatters indoor football team will not take place after all. The Wildcatters and the Cajundome announced Friday in a joint press release that the 2011 season had been canceled due to the unavailability of workers compensation insurance to legally proceed with the start of the season. 'It is with complete regret that the Lafayette Wildcatters are forced to cancel their 2011 season due to Louisiana Workers Compensation laws,' Cajundome Director Greg Davis said."
Louisiana Swashbucklers, Blake Bercegeay (McNeese State)
" 'I love music,' he says. 'Always have.' His father Shane led him to music when he was in the sixth grade. 'My Dad played in a band (named Pegasus) and he wanted me to play. He played a trumpet and a trombone but the first day of band tryouts, I picked out a saxophone,' Bercegeay said. He played that instrument throughout high school but says that he hasn't played it since. 'I've been playing the guitar for the past few years. I got some graduation money and bought one in Gonzales. I had it until I bought a new Takamine from Lake Charles Music.' "
Mobile Bay Tarpons, Trey Crum (Delta State)
Terry High School 1997-1999, Hinds Community College 2001-2002, Delta State University 2003-2004 (First team All-American, First team All-GSC), Mississippi Mudcats 2008 (AIFA) holds points scored by a kicker in a single game (22), El Paso Generals 2009 (IFL) holds longest field goal made in a single game (61) yards, Columbus Lions 2010 (SIFL) holds most points scored in a season (136)
Richmond Raiders, K/WR/DB Chris Segaar (Virginia Tech)
Segaar has previously played for the Richmond Revolution (IFL), Richmond Bandits (AIFL), Roanoke Wrath (soccer), Roanoke Steam (af2), Charleston Swamp Foxes (af2), and Tennessee Valley Vipers (af2). "Segaar's scrapbook is brimming with football and soccer headlines. In helping Annandale to the 1993 Group AAA state football title, he made a game-winning field goal in the semifinals vs. Thomas Dale. Then, he had a 54-yard touchdown reception in the final against Pulaski. At the time, football was his second sport. He was also first-team all-state in soccer. Segaar's speed made him a natural for any sport. He enrolled at Tech as a recruited walk-on with the idea of playing both sports. 'At the time, my goal was pro soccer,' he said."
Rio Grande Valley Magic, Leo Araguz (Stephen F. Austin State)
"Araguz, a Harlingen native who graduated from Harlingen High, was a punter for four NFL teams, primarily the Oakland Raiders, and one in the XFL during his 10-year career. He last played in an NFL game in 2005 with the Seattle Seahawks before a preseason stint with the Baltimore Ravens in 2006. Now 41, Araguz has two children with a third due next week and is the oldest player on the Magic and doesn’t harbor any hopes of getting back into the NFL. He owns Harlingen-based Araguz Construction.... But the urge to play football as well is still strong, 'It’s always been fun for me. It’s not so much for me to get back in the league or for me to make money. It’s none of that, obviously,' Araguz said. 'It’s just pretty much going out and staying in shape. If I can still do it, I can turn another stone in my career. I’ve played pretty much in every league out there except for the Canadian league,' he added. 'Might as well try something close by and let the local people come out and entertain them and see what we can do.' "
Trenton Steel, Craig Camay (UT-Chattanooga)
"Camay earned Associated Press Second Team All-America honors as a University of Tennessee-Chattanooga senior in 2009. During his last two seasons with the Mocs, Camay hit 19-of-21 field-goal attempts from inside the 40-yard line. In addition to his conventional accuracy, Camay is a master of the drop kick. Indoor Football rules award an extra point for each extra point or field goal converted with a drop kick. He fits the perfect profile for the Indoor game, in which kicking accuracy is more important than kicking power. 'I think I can make a difference for our team,' said Camay. 'I’m looking forward to contributing.' A native of Johannesburg, South Africa, Camay came to the United States in 1997."

Sunday, March 20, 2011

RBS 6 Nations: Final Kicks

Chris Paterson 11 points (1 conversion & 3 penalty kicks)
"Anyone can beat anyone. It probably gives more weight to how hard it is to beat Italy. In the players' eyes, they've never been the weak link. It maybe will make people realise, who don't realise how hard it is to play against Italy, because they deserved their win."
Mirco Bergamasco 3 points (1 penalty kick)
"Of course it was a great weekend in every respect but we have already moved on. The French page has been turned and we have opened the Scottish page. Murrayfield is all that is important now and we are preparing accordingly. We will be up against a team who are going through a very difficult patch. They may not have won yet but we know how well they can play."

Morgan Parra 13 points (2 conversions & 3 penalty kicks)
"We know we are in a real mess, and we put ourselves there. We just hope that we will have the public behind us and help us to get over it on Saturday. We were total idiots last Saturday. All of us. What happened last weekend has marked us all. Now we are hungry to redeem ourselves and to make up some lost ground."
James Hook 9 points (3 penalty kicks)
"It will be a bit strange playing against future team-mates. I have always loved playing in France, whether for Wales or the Ospreys, and Saturday will be no different. I have not met David Marty yet, but I hope to have a chat with him after the game. We have won three and lost three at Stade de France. After the Millennium Stadium, it is my favourite ground, and we will be looking to express ourselves. France are difficult to analyse, which is the same every year. You never know which French side will turn up, but we can only focus on ourselves."

Jonathan Sexton 14 points (1 conversion & 4 penalty kicks)
"It was a close call who started and I was delighted to get the nod. It's just a brilliant day for everyone involved. It wasn't really about me, it was about me doing as much as I could for the team.... We've just been making individual errors and people have been looking for reasons why we've not been playing well, I think penalties have been killing us as well. We tend to get a little negative in Ireland and sometimes it was warranted, sometimes it wasn't."
Toby Flood 3 points (1 penalty kick)
"You go into every competition to try and win it and we are in a better position than we have been in recent years. But it is a huge disappointment we weren't able to finish it off - and we weren't even close to doing it. They hammered us."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Southern Kicking, part 1

We've already previewed this year's kickers in the UIFL, the CIFL, the IFL, and the AFL. From an indoor perspective, that leaves us with just the SIFL (Southern Indoor Football League). Starting at the beginning of the alphabet, following is the first half of the kickers.

Abilene Ruff Riders, Craig Wissler (West Virginia State)
We spoke to Craig and discovered the road to Abilene passes through Erie, "I just finished up my senior season in college in 2010. The indoor game really interests me so I went up to a tryout in Erie Pennsylvania. The coach already had a kicker there, but I had a really good tryout (14 of 15 PATs and 4 of 4 FGs, so he decided to call up his buddy Coach Fox [the Rough Riders defensive coordinator]. We talked and they brought me in…. One thing I’m learning is that kicking here is different than the outdoor game. So far getting adjusted to the small goal posts hasn’t been too difficult. It’s the same kick; you just have to be a little bit more accurate. As far as the ceilings go, our ceiling at our arena is a little bit low, so adjusting to driving the kickoff a little bit more than you would as far as hang time is pretty much the main difference. We also do a lot more onside kicks, so those have to be crisp versus the outdoor game. Those are the main differences that I’ve encountered so far."
Alabama Hammers, Kenny Spencer (University Of North Alabama)
We spoke to Kenny, a.k.a. Trick Shot King, regarding his road to the SIFL, "They were actually trying to get my roommate to play with them and he is a QB. They talked him into going to a work out, then he asked coach do you have a kicker. He said no, so I went to the tryout, which I just came out fresh from my Titans work out. We arrived at the workout and I kicked 2 onside kicks and it was a wrap, lol. Then that's the day I became a Hammer!... This league is no joke, we have players that can play in all areas. The only thing that I dislike right now is not being able to kick off into the net. I have to place the ball high and in front of the boards. It's what it is though. I'm just really excited for our first game on Sat. March 19th!"
Albany Panthers, Wes Virgilio (Victor Valley JC)
"The other addition is Wes Virgilio, a kicker with some rather large shoes to fill. Juan Bongarra — who was not only a fan favorite, but arguably as good or better than any kicker in the SIFL — was so good that he has moved up to Arena 1 Football and is playing for Tulsa this season. 'I know I have some big shoes to fill, but I think I can do it,’ said Virgilio, who was a kicker with Albany’s former arena team, the South Georgia Wildcats in 2007. He brings a strong leg and a penchant for kicking high bouncing on-side kicks."
Carolina Speed, Bruce Reinecker (West Liberty State College)
"Bruce is an established indoor football veteran and a former Arena Football League kicker with the N.Y. Dragons and Chicago Rush. He played in the Arena Football League, AF2, American Indoor Football Association, United Football League and the National Indoor Football League. He holds several indoor kicking records at the AF2 level in addition to being a two time AF2 all-star recipient."
Columbus Lions, Austin Miller (Army)
After being the starting kicker for the U.S. Military Academy from 2003-2004 and 2006, Capt. Austin Miller said had no intentions of pursuing a career in professional football. He loved the Army too much. When he ventured across the street from his home to Doughboy Stadium during last fall’s Doughboy Classic, he had no idea he would have the chance to be the new place-kicker for the Columbus Lions. 'I live right across the street from the stadium and one day I just walked across to check out practice (for the Doughboy Classic) and I ran into John Hargrove,' Miller said. Hargrove is part-owner of the Columbus Lions.... Gibson invited Miller to a practice session in December to test out his leg and his accuracy. 'I ran him through some kicking drills and we charted him,' Gibson said. 'He kicked pretty well. I was pleasantly surprised.' Gibson called Miller that night to tell him he wanted him to kick for the Lions this season. 'My first reaction was, ‘Can I really do this?’ Miller said. 'I think I was worried I was going to stretch myself too thin. My wife wanted me to play because she didn’t know me in college. She was excited about it.' "
Corpus Christi Hammerheads, Darren Brown (Wofford College)
"Brown’s legal practice will continue to take a back seat to his love for sports and his entrepreneurial spirit. Darren owns and manages both SoccerZone South Austin and ASA (Austin Sports Arena), providing a unique perspective and that allows him to think outside the box in formulating solutions to challenges that arise."
Erie Explosion, Shon Rowser (Western Carolina)
"The veteran kicker returns to Erie for the 2011 season. Rowser joined Erie for part of the 2010 season and immediately made his presence known. He was 5 of 9 on field goals and 14 of 18 on pats, and averaged 48.1 yards on 27 kickoffs. A reliable veteran kicker with a strong leg, Rowser has kicked for the Raleigh Rebels, Erie RiverRats, and the Augusta Spartans where he helped his team to the 2007 WIFL Championship."
Fayetteville Force, Derek Scott (Tennessee Tech)
"I have played indoor football for several teams: Florida Knights NIFL, Osceola Ghoastriders WIFL, Florence Phantoms AIFA and the Harrisburg Stampede AIFA. I am currently signed with the Fayetteville Force. I do not have the big leg as some of the others kickers in the league, but am usually toward the top in most kicking stats."

Monday, March 14, 2011

RBS 6 Nations: Week 4 Kicking

Mirco Bergamasco 17 points (1 conversion & 5 penalty kicks)
"We didn't like certain comments made by the French press, who have in recent years questioned our right to compete in the Six Nations. Without a doubt, we definitely deserve to be in this tournament.... I was shaking after I missed my second penalty attempt. But then I told myself I would not miss any more kicks and that was the case.... This victory is the most beautiful of all. It's the one victory that has given us the most satisfaction."
Morgan Parra 16 points (1 conversion & 3 penalty kicks; 1 try)

James Hook 11 points (1 conversion & 3 penalty kicks)
"The boys were superb. We have trained really hard. Two wins on the road and this win here, we go to France with confidence."
Leigh Halfpenny 3 points (1 penalty kick)

Ronan O'Gara 8 points (1 conversion & 2 penalty kicks)
"I hit 950 a while back and then it stalled and I did wonder if it would ever happen. Life is all about learning, whether you have a hundred caps or one. The big thing I learnt was the need to enjoy my rugby — not to feel, as I did, that every result was down to how I played. There comes a stage when you have to release that pressure valve. I’ve done that and I’ve been playing better than I have in a long while."

Toby Flood 12 points (4 penalty kicks)
"I learned from a young age about Jonny's work ethic. Your eyes are taken to the back of your head when you realised what he was prepared to go though to achieve what he wanted to do. He was peerless during my time at Newcastle and different to anything else that was going on. Seeing a guy like that who was at the top of his game, made me realise as an 18-year-old coming into that side that I had to raise my game. I have taken that through to how I prepare for games. I have fond memories of playing (together) at Newcastle. For certain phases I would be first receiver and, for others, I would be second receiver depending on what was needed. I have always enjoyed that. Our relationship is a huge help to each other and the team and something that I feel very comfortable in."
Jonny Wilkinson 5 points (1 conversion & 1 penalty kick)
"I am fully respectful of the situation. It's been a good relationship where we can tell each other what to do and discuss what is needed. We have been blessed to have had that opportunity. At Newcastle, whatever number you had on your back became irrelevant and we pushed each other to try to have every skill we needed. I see it as a 'win-win' relationship. I am desperate to see the best of what Floody can do for England's sake and I have been in a privileged position to have seen that from day one. I want to see where he can go. And, in seeing that, it helps me raise the bar as well. There is a (mutual) respect there. We help each other and then repay that to get the best out of each other. Floody has played exceptionally well and he deserves his chance."
Chris Paterson 8 points (1 conversion & 2 penalty kicks)
"It showed our defence was better. It was a strange, unstructured game, good to watch I guess. It is another defeat and we have six days to regroup.... What today showed was that sport at international level is about very small margins. Sometimes things go your way and we have to make sure we do not end up with the wooden spoon."
Ruaridh Jackson 3 points (1 drop kick)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

AFL Kickers - National, Central

Our four part preview of AFL kickers concludes with the Central Division of the National Conference. 

Chicago Rush, Chris Gould
  • Gould signing with the Rush in November 2009. Last year he was named the Arena Football League’s Kicker of the Year, setting team single-season records for scoring for a kicker (146), extra points made (113), extra points attempted (121) and consecutive PATs converted (35) in his first season with the team. In 2008 he played four 4 games for the Milwaukee Iron (af2)
  • He a four-year letterwinner (2004-07) at the University of Virginia, earning the job as the team’s punter late in his freshman year. He added the role of the team’s starting placekicker as a junior. He won the George Welsh Award as the team’s Special Teams Player of the Year as a senior.
  • Late last year Chris discussed the life of a kicker, "It’s definitely hard to keep going. We only make $400 a week, so a lot of guys have other jobs. Everybody is playing for a chance. You’re playing for the hope that somebody sees you, for a chance to get to the next level. In the [AFL], it’s more of a dire straits. It’s a great opportunity to get exposure, but if you don’t make it, there aren’t any other places to play.... If you’re going to do something as specialized as kicking, you can’t have any doubts in your mind. You have to believe in yourself fully. With all the ups and downs I’ve had, if I didn’t believe in what I was doing, I would give up right away. It’s a hard, long process, and a lot of people don’t get in until they’re 26 or 27 or they let their opportunity pass them by because they weren’t ready, because they had taken a full-time job and weren’t in great shape. I’ll be ready."
Dallas Vigilantes, Remy Hamilton
  • As one of the most prolific kickers in Arena Football League (AFL) history, Hamilton is the all-time point leader in the AFL. Remy also played in the ational Football League (NFL) with the Detroit Lions, St. Louis Rams, Chicago Bears and Seattle Seahwaks.
  • He attended the University of Michigan, where he was a 1st team All-Big Ten selection and a two time Lou Groza Award finalist. He holds numerous records at Michigan and remains the only kicker in school history to earn All-American honors.
  • In high school, Hamilton played as a kicker and at quarterback, as he discussed way back in 1991, "After we make a big play on offense and we get pumped up and we have to kick the ball, it affects my kicking a little because I get tired.... Quarterback is fun, but I think kicking is what`s going to get me somewhere. I`d rather go to a Division I school and kick."
Iowa Barnstormers, Piotr Czech
  • In 2010 Czech signed with the NFL Pittsburgh Steelers and was released at the end of training camp. In 2009 he signed with the UFL New York Sentinels and NFL Pittsburgh Steelers. In 2008 he signed as an undrafted free agent with the NFL Baltimore Ravens and was later released.
  • During his senior year at Wagner College he recorded 64 punts for a career-high of 2573 yards during the year along with making 16 of 19 field goals attempts and a career-high 75 points. Earned first team All-NEC honors as a kicker and second-team honors at punter along with being a four year letterman. As a junior he received Don Hansen's Gazette All-American honors.
  • Czech made the transition from soccer to football during his junior year in high school, "Kicking a soccer ball and a football are two totally different things. Kicking a soccer ball was second nature to me because I had been doing it all my life. Coming into football, I had a lot to learn. There is a lot of technique involved. The transition is hard; a lot of soccer players try it and can’t do it."
Kansas City Command, Mike Salerno
  • Salerno played six games in 2010 with the Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz
  • During his senior year at Northern Illinois University: field goals 19-24, 2nd Team All Conference MAC, Lou Groza Award nominee, 63.9 yard kickoff average with 10 touchbacks, career long punt of 67 yards vs. Akron
  • During his junior year he hits a career-long 52-yarder that tied the school record for the longest field goal
  • Salerno discussed his preparation for his senior year in college, "Last year went well and I'm just looking to step up and hopefully cut down the misses to as low as possible. That's why I spent the whole summer here, working out with the team. I had a special running program going, more specifically geared toward the kicking game to help me out. I worked with Nolan (Owen), our snapper, and Ryan Morris, who is holding for me. That way we have more of a mesh."
Tulsa Talons, Juan Bongarra
  • Last year Bongarra was named SIFL Special Teams Player of the Week three times in the first five weeks with the Louisiana Swashbucklers
  • Senior year at Albany State University: named HSRN National Player of the Week after hitting field goals on the final play of regualtion to tie the game and the winner in OT in win over Clark Atlanta; named second team kicker SIAC Football All-Conference
  • Last spring Bongarra discussed the SIFL experience, "This (league) should be easy for a kicker. And I like the game. It is so much faster. In arena football everything is pop, pop, pop. You’re scoring right away. But the field goals and extra points are easier, because you don’t get as big of a rush as you do in (football).... Before, I never saw myself playing this game, but I’m real happy this worked out."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cain. Podlesh. Scobee…. Snap. Hold. Kick. (part 3)

Jeremy Cain snaps. Adam Podlesh holds. Josh Scobee kicks. We’ve already looked at elements of those individual roles. We’ve already looked at how they combine those roles into a common effort. But why does that combination succeed?

Many say that kicking is 80 to 90% mental. It has been a frequent topic of conversation on this website. Does that also apply to the other two specialists?
  • Cain: “Yea, I would say that. You gotta know what you can do. Once you know you can do it physically, it’s a challenge of staying consistent and executing on Sunday.”
  • Podlesh: “Absolutely. Absolutely. You can talk to a lot of kickers and punters, especially ones that play golf, they parallel their craft with playing golf. You’ve seen a lot of golfers that are very, very good at what they do and are not NFL quality physiques, to say the least. The craft that we do, although you do need to have a physical aspect to it, but being able to keep your swing as consistent as possible and maintain that throughout the whole season, being able to deal with the pressures and stresses of the NFL (which everybody has to deal with), being able to do that and keep yourself in a good consistent manner is very, very tough to do mentally. That’s the biggest key.”
Since the mental aspect of placekicking is already well documented, we asked Josh a collaborative variation on the question. Is the mental component purely an individual thing for each of the three of them, or does it in some way also apply to the group as a whole?
  • Scobee: “I would say so. Speaking for me individually, I try not to blame anything on anyone else as far as a bad snap or a bad hold. By that I’m basically trying to put the responsibility on my shoulders, that way I’m not making any excuses for myself. Granted, when things go right and we make I kick, I like to give them praise, but I like to put the responsibility on myself for making the kick. Obviously all three of us have our own individual jobs to add to the entire unit, but I like to take that responsibility if it’s a bad kick.”
For the moment, let’s set aside that mental part of kicking. Set aside all the physical skills and the integration of those skills. Forget about all the practice. Take away the K-ball, the playing field, the weather and any other conditions that impact kicking. What are we left with? Three guys – Jeremy, Adam, and Josh. For our final round of questions, we asked them about each other. And just for the sake of seeing what it yielded, we also asked each one of them what they thought their co-specialists would say about them.

Is there anything the public should know about Jeremy, but that he’s too modest to tell us?
  • Cain [on what he thought his fellow specialists would say about him]: I would hope that they’d say the same thing [sense of humor and fun].
  • Scobee: “Besides just snapping, which most people [falsely] think is a pretty easy job, he’s a tremendous athlete. He actually came into the NFL as a linebacker and actually played some fullback as well. I’m pretty sure he snapped in college, but he happened to pick up snapping just messing around one day while with another NFL team. So he was an athlete before he was a snapper.”
  • Podlesh: “I think he’s going to be in the league a long time doing what he does. He’s got one of the best work ethics I’ve ever seen. I think most people would say his work ethic that he has as a long snapper is second to none. Not to mention that he has played linebacker; he’s one of the best coverers that I’ve seen. He’s got the trifecta that you want for a long snapper: being able to protect, being able to snap consistently, and being able to cover down there and make a tackle if he has to. He’s done that. With his work ethic to be able to maintain that for years to come, I get excited thinking about the combination of us three. I feel I’ve been progressing pretty well myself, and for the years to come we’ve got a pretty good synergy between us.”
What should the public should know about Adam, but that he’s too modest to tell us?
  • Podlesh [on what he thought his fellow specialists would say about him]: “They would say that I use a lot of multi-syllable words that they don’t understand… I think they would say that I hold my own as a punter, and I’d like to think that they think I’m fun to be around. I think that’s one of the most important parts of having a good trio of specialists, because you obviously aren’t hanging around with a lot of other guys, you’re kind of doing your own thing.”
  • Cain: “I think Adam’s a great guy. A very strong character. He likes to have fun. Has a great sense of humor. I’ve been with him for two years and we’ve executed under pressure.”
  • Scobee: “He is incredibly intelligent. We actually laugh about it because Jeremy and I are always looking at each other wondering what Adam’s talking about, because he’s uses these big intelligent words that we’ve probably never heard of before. He’s extremely smart and makes us look really dumb.”
Is there anything the public know about Josh, but that he’s too modest to tell?
  • Scobee [on what he thought his fellow specialists would say about him]: "They’ll probably say – hopefully they’ll say this – I’m the one that tries to keep everything light and tries to have fun with everything."
  • Podlesh: “Well, I’ve said this from the first year I came to Jacksonville… he is the most impressive kicker I’ve ever been around. I feel that he is a Pro Bowl kicker. He has the ability to do that, and I believe that he will do that sometime. He has got probably the biggest cannon that I have ever seen kicking field goals and kicking off. Some of the things that I’ve seen him do on the football field, and some of the things that I’ve heard he had done in college even… it’s like, ‘how the heck do you kick the ball that far?’ It’s unbelievable. The last few years he’s really been putting the stress on keeping himself consistent. Really working on his field goals, and he’s been doing a great job. Like I said before, he’s a Pro Bowl kicker. He might not want to admit it, but I believe that he will be one.”
  • Cain: “Josh, he’s the same thing [as Adam]... he really has a great sense of humor, has fun. We always talk about executing under pressure, and that’s why we can do it.”
And all of that’s why they can do it well.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Cain. Podlesh. Scobee…. Snap. Hold. Kick. (part 2)

We continue our triple interviews with the Jacksonville Jaguars’ specialists: kicker Josh Scobee, holder/punter Adam Podlesh, and long snapper Jeremy Cain. In part one, we primarily discussed how some common elements impacted each of their respective tasks during placekicking. Today we take a closer look at the integration of their efforts. While each of them has detailed individual requirements on a play, those all have to occur at specific times and locations relative to each other on the time-space continuum. In simple terms: it requires precise timing and coordination.

How long does it typically take a trio of long snapper, holder, and kicker to develop the necessary rhythm for kicking success? Jeremy and Josh have both worked with several different trio combinations during their pro careers:
  • Cain: “I think it’s different with everybody. It’s the chemistry that you have with somebody and the time that you have. Adam and I, we kind of hit it off from the beginning. It could be from a day to a whole season.”
  • Scobee: “It takes some time. Anytime you bring one of those new guys into the equation, it takes some time to develop the rhythm for each person, and to get used to their tendencies. Also, more importantly, to develop the trust between all three of us. That’s sometimes something that can never be perfected. It can be improved every year, and that’s what you try to do. However long you have with someone, you try to improve on it every day, every week, and every year.”
Plenty of practice is obviously key to developing the timing and coordination. We know that occurs during training camp and the regular season. But what about the rest of the year?
  • Podlesh: “What we’ll do, starting in March and April, we’ll get back together and we’ll usually have a couple days a week that we’ll work and make sure that we keep the rust from accruing on us. The good thing about us is that Josh and I both predominantly live in Jacksonville all year round, and Jeremy is either in Jacksonville or in southern Florida which is not far away. So it’s pretty easy for us to get together if we need to.”
  • Scobee: “What we try to during the offseason, once we get back together and start working out with the team, once we’re all back in town, we get together once or maybe twice a week before OTAs begin. Just to develop some kind of rhythm and work out a few kinks before we actually start practicing.”
  • Cain: “In April when we start our offseason programs up in Jacksonville; we’re all there. We get together, Adam and I (we don’t need Josh the whole time when we’re just snapping and holding). The three of us work together throughout the offseason, all the way through training camp, and the whole season.”
More than once it has been mentioned that the three of them spend a fair amount of time together. Aside from snapping, holding, and kicking, what else do they talk about? In addition to kicking, Adam played linebacker in high school. Jeremy began his NFL career as a linebacker. We asked Adam if he and Jeremy ever talk linebacking.
  • “Not really. I think the difference between him and what he did… I mean he was an NFL linebacker for a little while. He didn’t get into snapping until probably a couple years after he graduated college. I did play linebacker and running back in high school, but the amount of football IQ that I have in those positions (although I feel I’m a pretty good tackler for my position)… I just don’t have that type of IQ to run around stuff with him.”
In the ideal world, once they’ve got the routine down and the synchronization in place, every play would be automatic points. While that is the case the large majority of the time, on a few occasions things don’t always go as planned. If a missed kick occurs during a game, to what degree do the three of them assess that during the game?
  • Scobee: “We typically walk over to the sideline. Normally Adam or Jeremy will come up to me and ask what I thought went wrong. If I think there’s anything we can improve on I’ll let them know. Normally it’s just matter of trying to shake it off, and forget about it and move on to the next one. Learn from the previous one and move on.”
  • Podlesh: “Pretty much right afterwards. If there was anything that went awry – let’s say with a snap, or a hold, or a placement was off (which we really didn’t run into too much this year, our operation was pretty good, and Jeremy did a great job snapping) - but right afterwards we will assess the situation and see what happened. We have photos to see what is going on, how the ball was held. A lot of times, since we’ve done this so many times, we already know what went on. Say if I miss a spot by a little bit, I’ll know it right off the bat. Or if [Josh] pulls it, I’ll even know it because I can tell just feeling the ball come off his foot from my finger. So a lot of times we already know. But we’ll assess it right afterwards and pretty much get it away and get on to the next kick.”
  • Cain: “Immediately! We talk right away whether it was something to do with the snap, or the hold, or the kick. We want to communicate it so it doesn’t happen again if there was an issue with a missed field goal or something going on with the punt.”
Although they quickly assess things during the game, is there any further assessment during meetings and practices in the days following?
  • Podlesh: “Sometimes it’s inevitable that will happen, but I think for the trio between me, Josh and Jeremy, we already know what’s going on. These are professionals in the league; we know exactly what’s going on. We’re usually our biggest critic. And I really believe that with pretty much every specialist in the league. We’ve already understood and rectified the problem in our own mind, from the second after this all happened.”
  • Scobee: “We’ll look at it normally a day or two after either a win or a loss, no matter what happened. We go back and review. You can always learn from your mistakes and learn from the things you’ve done well, and try not to repeat the mistakes.”
Suppose a snapper, a holder, and a kicker have spent years developing their individual skills. As a group, they’ve spent considerable time in the off-season, in practices, and even during the game developing timing and rhythm, and making necessary adjustments. That doesn’t necessarily mean that any combination of three individuals will succeed. In the forthcoming third and final part of our interview, we’ll look at why Jeremy, Adam, and Josh have succeeded.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

AFL Kickers - National, West

Our preview of this year's Arena Football League kickers shifts to the National Conference, where we'll start with the West Division. 

We previously looked at the American Conference's East Division and South Division.

Arizona Rattlers, Joe Schroeder
  • Schroeder previously was the kicker for Sacred Heart University. He was selected as a member of the All Northeast Conference Team in 2008.
  • Named NEC Special Teams Player of the Week for the week of 10/13/2008: "Schroeder connected on two field goal attempts (45, 42) and was perfect on five PAT opportunities in helping the Pioneers past Saint Francis (PA) on Saturday. A week after nailing the game-winning field goal to sink Wagner, the junior placekicker opened Saturday’s affair by drilling a career long 45-yard field goal that staked Sacred Heart out to a 3-0 lead. Equally as important in helping Sacred Heart remain undefeated, Schroeder boomed two of his eight kickoffs for touchbacks while averaging 66.1 yards per kick during the Pioneers’ sixth straight victory."
  • Jackson Memorial High School, Class of 2005
  • "Probably the most frequently asked question I get is 'how do you feel about kicking on 9 ft uprights?' I just say if I trust my technique and stay true to my form and let my body do the work, the ball will go where I want it to. Never having played or seen an arena game, I'd have to say the biggest difference for me going from the outdoor game to the AFL would have to be the speed of the game. In outdoor football you're guaranteed one kickoff so I could potentially only kick once a game, but in arena you're always kicking because you're always scoring which is what I like the most about playing arena. You always have to be ready for anything which makes the game fun and interesting."
San Jose SaberCats, Juan Gamboa
  • In four seasons at Sacramento State, Gamboa (5-8, 195) served as the team’s place kicker his entire career with the Hornets. During his collegiate career, Gamboa connected on 36 field goals on 56 attempts (64.3%), while accounting for over 200 points. As a senior he averaged 59.0 yards per kickoff, notching 12 touchbacks.
  • A graduate of Bellarmine Prep in San Jose, he ranked as the second-best kicker in the country by SuperPrep and the sixth-best by Gamboa made all 30 of his extra points as a senior and also connected on a career-long 55-yard field goal. He earned all-league and all-state honors as a junior and senior and was also named All-America after each season. 
  • Gamboa learned the key aspects of kicking success back in his Bellarmine days, "The secret is consistency. You can't be really good one game and then hit the skids the next game. You have to keep it on an even plane and have a really short memory. You have to focus on your technique.""
Spokane Shock, Taylor Rowan
  • Prior to joining the Shock last year, stops on Rowan's kicking career included Melbourne High (Florida), Western Illinois University from 2005 to 2008, and the Arkansas Twisters of the AF2 and the New York Sentinels of the UFL in 2009.
  • He set a new record for most consecutive PATs made while kicking at Western Illinois with 129. He was named to Phil Steele’s Preseason All-America second team prior to his senior year, and was named Western Illinois’ Special Teams Player of the Year as a junior and a senior.
  • During our interview with Taylor last year, he discussed playing in the big game for the champion Shock, “The ArenaBowl experience was one of a kind! Playing for Spokane Shock is the best experience I think you can have in playing arena football, with how many championships they have here. ArenaBowl was pretty cool. We had three or four games on NFL Network leading up the ArenaBowl… having Kurt Warner on the field and all these well known NFL guys on NFL Network just walking around. Playing for Spokane, every game is pretty much sold out, so just the noise level. Then playing Tampa Bay, which is one of the most well known franchises in the history of arena football, playing them and their coaches - just a different level, their team being a more experienced, older team and our team being a new team with a lot of younger players. It was pretty cool… being on national television in a sold out arena was definitely the loudest experience I’ve ever played in, and that’s including playing SEC opponents in college.”
Utah Blaze, Carlos Ojeda
  • Ojeda kicked for the Fairbanks Grizzlies (IFL) in 2009 & 2010. He was a part of the Albany Conquest of the af2 in 2008 and also spent time with the Daytona Beach Thunder (WIFL), Alaska Wild (IFL), and Ohio Valley Greyhounds (UIF).
  • College: University of Central Florida
  • Ojeda is a frequent contributor to our Kickology Question of the Month, including our in-depth look at the sweet spot: "When you hit 'the sweet spot' on a football, whether it's a field goal, kickoff or punt, you know instantaneously upon contact that that ball is going exactly where you want envision it, at the height & distance you want it to travel, and with the 'perfect rotation'."
  • His kicking goals for 2011:  "The same resolution I had last year, and the year before, and the year before that, all the way back to my first season in high school... to split the uprights on every kick. Be it practice, warmups, preseason game, home game, away, playoffs, championship game, blowouts, close games, tryouts, goofing off, whatever... even in my head -- Every time I line up to attempt a field goal or extra point in 2011, I expect it to go in."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

CFL E-Camp 2011: Twice the Kick

The Americans were camping (Combining) last weekend and the Canadians will be camping this weekend, Friday March 4th to Sunday March 6th. Toronto will be the setting for the CFL's annual Evaluation Camp. This year's participants include two kickers:
Laval's Christopher Milo and Alberta's Hugh O'Neill will become only the third and fourth kickers to attend the camp in 10 years. Guelph's Rob Maver, who was invited a year ago, was later selected fifth overall by Calgary in the CFL Canadian Draft and went on to lead the CFL in scoring in 2010 with 185 points. UBC's Duncan O'Mahony participated in 2001 and enjoyed an eight-year CFL career.
Christopher Milo, Montreal Quebec
May 8, 2010: Laval kicker Christopher Milo was good on all three field goal attempts (37, 18, 40 yards) as the East team prevailed 12-9 in the eighth annual East West Bowl, presented by Under Armour, on Saturday afternoon at TD Waterhouse Stadium on the campus of The University of Western Ontario. In the third frame the wind picked up and the snow began to fall, but that did not stop Surla as he had a forceful take down at the 50-yard line causing the East’s first down. Soon after, Milo kicked an impressive 40-yard field goal increasing the East lead to 12-7. “The snaps were just taking off and tough to handle in this wind. The winds were just taking over. On the 40-yard field goal I drove my leg in a bit more and luckily the wind died down right before I kicked it.”
Hugh O'Neill, Edmonton Alberta
O’Neill is a dual purpose kicker/punter out of the University of Alberta. The Golden Bear is ranked 11th in the CFL’s Canadian amateur scouting bureau, and is the top kicker available in the draft class. He’s a four-time Canada West all-star from 2007 through 2010, a second team CIS all-Canadian place kicker and punter in 2007, first team CIS punter in 2009, but perhaps most importantly he was the athletic program’s academic all-Canadian in 2007/08, and maintains a GPA of slightly under 4.00.
We checked in Hugh, who offered the following thoughts on the upcoming camp:
"I'm just hoping I can showcase some of my skills at the camp. My understanding is that Christopher Milo and I are the third and fourth kickers to be invited to the camp which is a great honor. I think it's awesome to see kickers getting a chance to kick some footballs in that competitive setting before the draft. Right now preparation is somewhat limited due to weather, but at the University of Alberta we have a facility which allows me to dome a little bit of kicking to make sure everything is still working with the leg before the camp. I am very excited to travel to Toronto and participate in the E-camp and look forward to competing with the best players in the CIS."
So what is the E-camp experience like for a kicker? That very question was answered last year by Rob Maver - a 2010 E-camp participant and a subsequent first-round draft pick by the Calgary Stampeders. Following are a few excerpts from Rob's complete write-up:
  • At check in, I was given a Reebok bag, which had all of all of my personalized gear for the weekend. This gear included a sweat suit, compression shorts, t-shirt, socks, and hat among other items. More importantly, Ryan Janzen from the CFL League Office, handed me an envelope. Inside: an itinerary for the weekend and an interview schedule. I had interviews with the Stampeders, Argonauts and the Tiger-Cats on the Friday night. I felt they all went very well.
  • Being the lone kicker there, I was grouped with the quarterbacks and the running backs. You spend the majority of your time throughout E-Camp with your group.
  • Saturday morning we did our medicals followed by the first round of testing. This first round of testing included the ‘almighty’ bench press. Originally I was in line to go right after Mike Montoya, but after watching him shatter the E-Camp bench record with 40 reps, I decided it would be a good idea to find somebody else to go right after him, ha-ha. Fortunately, I found somebody who was willing to do this so that the scouts did not see a cliff jump between consecutive bench press performances.
  • For all of the guys participating in E-Camp, Sunday was game-day. Sure, the interviews and combine testing are excellent measures of one’s personality and athleticism, however the most important test was on the field.
  • After a quick stretch and warm up routine I was ready to go. Coach O’Shea grabbed Kevin Eiben. Kevin Eiben has held for many kickers the Argonauts have had. CFL Director of Officiating Tom Higgins came over and told me how we’d be running the workout and we were off. The workout consisted of several kicks from various distances from both hash marks. To wind down, Mr. Higgins put me through some short kicks to show coaches my elevation, and then we ended with a convert.
  • Following the kicking session, I re-joined my group to run the 40-yard dash and the shuttle run tests.
  • My overall impression of E-Camp was that it was an incredible weekend. Having grown up watching the CFL, it was very special to partake in a 48-hour job interview with the teams. It was awesome getting to meet the coaches and executives around the league, especially since I have been a fan of this league for as long as I can remember.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Cain. Podlesh. Scobee…. Snap. Hold. Kick. (part 1)

Ask any kicker about the keys to successful placekicking, and they’ll quickly (if not immediately) mention their fellow specialists – the holder and the long snapper. They’ll note the critical importance of the timing, rhythm, and integration of their three individual tasks into one seamless production. Ask either of the other two players, and they’ll tell you pretty much the same thing. To further explore the inner workings of this combination, we decided to speak to not one, but to all three members of a well-known trio.

The Jacksonville Jaguars’ trio consists of kicker Josh Scobee, holder Adam Podlesh, and long snapper Jeremy Cain. Scobee has been with the Jags the longest of the three, drafted out of Louisiana Tech in 2004. Podlesh, better known as the team’s punter, was drafted out of Maryland in 2007. Cain, the newest member of the group, won the snapping job during the 2009 preseason. He had previously played for the Chicago Bears, Amsterdam Admirals (NFL Europa), and Tennessee Titans.

To provide a little background information, we asked all three players to recall their earliest memory of doing what they now do for a living.
  • Scobee: “I grew up playing soccer, so my first memory of kicking any kind of ball around would be when I was about three years old. My older brother played soccer as well, so he and I would go out and kick the ball around.”
  • Podlesh on kicking: “I think I was about five or six years old, at a YMCA soccer league. I kept kicking the ball over the goal. From then on I kinda knew that I had a big leg from a soccer standpoint, before I made the transition to football.”
  • Cain: “The first high school I went to, no one else could do it. We were in practice and coach made me get under there and snap it. That was my freshman year in high school.”
  • Podlesh on holding: “That wasn’t until college. I kicked field goals in high school, so that would have been pretty tough to do holding duties at that time. I had a great holder in high school. I never made the transition until my first year in college. I was redshirted that year so I didn’t play. We had a couple long snappers and obviously both of them needed to warm-up during practice. I was the other guy there, so I would take snaps from them to help get them warmed up. Not to mention I knew that our starting punter at the time, Brooks Bernard, did the holding duties as well. So I figured this is something I might want to look into and get myself prepped for. And it went from there.”
While Adam was adding holding to his job responsibilities, Jeremy was facing additional facets of snapping at each new level. He discussed the biggest adjustment between high school and college, and then between college and the NFL.
  • “I think it goes along with every long snapper, the biggest adjustment is protection. In high school it’s not as important in college. It goes even further in the pros because you have that responsibility in the NFL of having the A-gap whichever way you go, whether it’s the right or the left. Some college long snappers they just snap it and run down and they’re able to make the play in coverage. I’d probably say that’s the biggest adjustment – protection.”
When all three players entered the NFL, each faced a diabolical new nemesis. In the first 1.3 seconds of a kicking play, all three touch the ball – Jeremy and Adam with their hands, and Josh with his foot. In the NFL, that ball is the dreaded K-ball. How did it impact their transition from college into the pros and how does it impact each of their respective tasks?
  • Cain: “I think it affects me and every long snapper. Our equipment staff gets 30 minutes or so before each game to break in footballs. Some of them aren’t as broken in as others so they still have a lot of wax on the football. It’s challenging for every long snapper to have a new ball every game.”
  • Podlesh on punting: “It’s definitely a less forgiving football. As most of us know, they’re delivered to the referees the night before the game. Really nobody has any time, other than 30 or 40 minutes before the game they have one designated equipment manager to be able to break in the balls under supervision of an official, which keeps the balls from being in really good broken-in shape. If you hit the ball sweet, it will go almost as far as a broken-in ball. If you do not, it is definitely not as forgiving as a kicking ball that you would use in college, where you can use as broken-in of a ball as you want for the most part.”
  • Podlesh on holding: “The biggest thing with holding, and I think people know this from the happenings with Tony Romo… it’s a legitimate topic, with the wax on a new ball it makes it a little bit harder to grab and manage than a broken-in ball, like the quarterbacks would normally use in a game. Those are broken-in; they’ve been using those, as opposed to the K-balls which are not. They’re a little tougher to get your hand on, especially if they’re not broken in very thoroughly during those 30 or 40 minutes before the game.”
  • Scobee: “It was quite a change with the fact that you couldn’t break the balls in yourself to really get the compression and that broken in feeling that you get with any ball you’ve ever kicked in college. So it was a transition as far as trying to learn how to hit the sweet spot, and understanding that the sweet spot was a whole lot smaller whenever you have a newer ball, like the K-ball. That forces you to improve your technique and not just blast away at every kick.”
At any level of kicking, not just in the NFL, weather can impact the kicking game. We asked each member of the trio what is the worst weather condition for their respective task: wind, rain, or cold?
  • Scobee: “Most kickers would agree it’s the wind. The temperature doesn’t matter, although whenever you’re getting below freezing that’s pretty bad. But wind affects kickers and quarterbacks the most. If you’re playing in a dome eight games a year, that’s one huge element that you don’t have to factor in every week. I believe wind is the number one factor that affects kicking.”
  • Cain: “Well, all three of them are challenging. In rain you’re gripping the ball. With the wind you have to adjust the direction. Bitter cold affects it, but I’d say rain and wind are the most challenging for a long snapper.”
  • Podlesh: “Umm… you know with… it’s... YES! A combination of all of those is the worst. Cold to a certain degree, once it gets really cold, the ball never gets wet. We had a situation in 2009 against Cleveland towards the end of the season, it was so cold that the ball never got wet, it was just straight snow. Granted, it’s tough for you to grab a colder ball with cold fingers, but the slickness you would have on it in a mid-20’s temperature game is tougher. Wind is the worst factor. The ball will break on hold, it will break on a punt. There are so many factors that wind plays a part into in all operations with special teams.”
So far, we’ve primarily discussed the individual roles of each player. But as mentioned back at the beginning, a successful kick is a coordinated effort – three players working as one. Since Josh was the first to join the Jaguars, we asked him if there was anything in particular he recalled from the first time he met Adam, and then Jeremy when they joined the team?
  • “Not really, there’s nothing I can really recall. The three of us are great friends. All of us get along great. You couldn’t ask for a better situation with the three of us working together, because we all get along so well. We love to play golf together. We all have similar interests off the field. So it’s a great trio that we have, and hopefully the three of us can work together for a long time.”
In the forthcoming second part of our trio of articles on the trio, we’ll take a closer look at how they work together to ultimately split the uprights.

Scouting Combine 2011: Kicker News & Notes

Below is a collection of snippets from online articles the past few days covering the NFL Scouting Combine.

As a reminder, the specialist invitees were...
Dan Bailey (Oklahoma State)
Kai Forbath (UCLA)
Alex Henery (Nebraska)
Josh Jasper (LSU)
Jake Rogers (Cincinnati)
Matt Bosher (Miami FL)
Ryan Donahue (Iowa)
Reid Forrest (Washington State)
Chas Henry (Florida). 
Danny Aiken (Virginia)

Florida punter Chas Henry, asked to describe the spectrum of inquiries, said teams asked him to divulge any off-the-field problems, failed tests of any kind, family problems, his favorite color, “pretty much anything that you can think of.” The most difficult question he faced: what’s the dumbest thing you’ve done in your four years of college?
From the Palm Beach Post
After punting, placekicking and handling kickoffs for the University of Miami the past three seasons, Jupiter's Matt Bosher won't mind becoming a specialist. "I'm looking forward to honing it down to one, but I've been training to do all three here," Bosher said at the NFL Scouting Combine. "I feel like that gives me the best chance to make a team. I don't want to cut my chances by getting rid of one." Bosher demonstrated his skills at Lucas Oil Stadium in front of NFL personnel from every team. Before the demonstration, he said he wasn't nervous, even though he had never kicked in a dome. "It's just another day. You practice for this day for years and years. I've gone through high school, through five years at Miami, all the off-season work I've done, and it comes to this. So it's just a matter of practicing and keeping your head down and working through everything."
Nebraska's all-time leading scorer didn't step to a podium today. Rather, kicker Alex Henery sat quietly at a table, answering questions from a handful of gathered reporters. Henery was voted a captain by his teammates for two consecutive years, and called it an honor. The next honor on his checklist would be getting drafted by an NFL team. His ability to make clutch kicks throughout his career -- he made a school-record 57-yarder against Colorado his sophomore year -- could help that goal. "I just make sure I'm extra focused," Henery said of his mindset late in games. "I'm a low-key guy and I don't build up a situation over others. Whether it's a 57-yarder or an extra point, I have the same approach." One of the top kicking prospects in the draft, he said he anticipates maintaining consistency in his game as he heads to the professional ranks. "It's still kicking, whether it's a high school field or the NFL."
From the Sporting News
Matt Bosher: Bosher showed a strong leg and the ability to turn the ball over and drive it with no trouble. One issue was that he showed only adequate quickness catching the ball and getting off the punt.
Ryan Donahue: Donahue showed a strong leg and drove the ball with ease. He displayed the elite leg strength that NFL teams want, and showed good hands in catching the ball and getting rid of the punt quickly.
Kai Forbath: Forbath, an accurate placekicker at UCLA, needed to show scouts that he could kick off, something he struggled with in school. On Friday, he drove the ball well, likely easing those concerns.
Former UC kicker Jake Rogers was all set to do punting, kickoffs and field goals at the combine before discussions with special teams coaches around the league caused him to reconsider. Now Rogers will just do kickoffs and field goals. “I’m trying to show my leg strength and that I have the strongest leg in this year’s draft class,” Rogers said. “Kickoffs are very important to me and it’s where I want to stand out the most.”
From the New York Times
No prospect is too obscure to attract attention at the combine. At one conference table, seven reporters interviewed Virginia long snapper Danny Aiken, who did not know he was an N.F.L. prospect until midway through last season. “I like being anonymous,” he said. Too late.
From the Seattle Times
When you've got more than 300 college football players entering a room with as many media remembers, the players denoted only by number and names, there's bound to be some hilarious mix-ups. Take, for instance, WSU punter Reid Forrest. As a specialist, his number begins with "PK," same as the kickers. It makes for an amusing mix-up:
Q: During this whole evaluation process, do you kind of sit down with your agent and see that, 'This is team is set at kicker.' Like the St. Louis Rams, they're kind of set with Josh Brown. Do you guys look to see which teams might need a kicker?
Forrest: Well, I'm a punter.