the study of the kicking components within sports

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Undrafted Rookie Specialists Signing Frenzy

In a typical year, the hours and days following the NFL draft see numerous undrafted free agents signed by teams. Courtesy of the Lockout, that process was delayed this year.

The following kickers and punters were among yesterday's signing frenzy.

Atlanta Falcons: punter Jacob Harfman (USC)

Buffalo Bills: kicker Chris Hazley (Virginia Tech)

Buffalo Bills: punter Reid Forrest (Washington State)
"It’s the NFL. You’re going to be in an uphill climb. Those guys don’t want to give up their job."
Chicago Bears: punter/kicker Spencer Lanning (South Carolina)
"It was a tough summer. With having to wait so long, you really couldn't make any kind of long-term plans. You didn't even want to go on any vacations that you couldn't get back from. It's been a nerve-wracking summer to say the least."
Cincinnati Bengals: kicker Thomas Weber (Arizona State)

Cleveland Browns: kicker Jeff Wolfert (Missouri)
[Although he's not a member of the class of 2011, the NCAA's second most accurate kicker of all-time finally gets his foot in the NFL door]. "Next stop on this journey....Cleveland! Reached a contract agreement 15 minutes ago!"
Dallas Cowboys: kicker Dan Bailey (Oklahoma State)
"It's hard to explain. You are waiting so long and everything gets monotonous and six hours in an afternoon it all changes. It's kind of baptism by fire.... I am excited. I think it is a good opportunity.... If it works out, great. If not, it's still a great experience."
Detroit Lions: punter Ryan Donahue (Iowa)

Houston Texans: punter Brett Hartmann (Central Michigan)

Indianapolis Colts: punter Travis Baltz (Maryland)

Jacksonville Jaguars: punter Brian Saunders (Virginia Tech)
"It’s something I’ve been waiting a long time for, and I guess it’s just a relief that this is going to all pay off. Hopefully I can go down there and show them what I’ve got and impress somebody.... They said that the punting job is wide open pretty much, and they said that they did not sign the punter that they had last year yet because we’re going to compete for the starting job and everything like that. We’re going to battle it out for several weeks."
Minnesota Vikings: kicker Nate Whitaker (Stanford)

New England Patriots: kicker Chris Koepplin (Massachusetts)

New Orleans Saints: kicker Jake Rogers (Cincinnati)

Philadelphia Eagles: punter Chas Henry (Florida)

Pittsburgh Steelers: punter Aaron Bates (Michigan State) 

Seattle Seahawks: kicker Web Byrum (Auburn)

Seattle Seahawks: punter John Gold (Texas)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: kicker Josh Jasper (LSU)
"As the lockout got done my agent said it was going to happen real fast," Jasper said. "I got down to Tampa Bay and Buffalo. I'm happy to be going to Tampa Bay."
Tennessee Titans: punter Chad Cunningham (Tennessee)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

NFL Specialists Unlocked

With the NFL lockout finally over, very many people are happy. That includes many specialists. For those who don't do Twitter, or for those that do but may have missed them, following are some specialist tweets from the past 24 hours:

Jay Feely, Cardinals kicker
Football is back!!!! Player Reps approved!!
Robbie Gould, Bears kicker
Players voted to accepting major points of the settlement looking forward to getting back to football
Thomas Morstead, Saints punter
Yesterday I was an unemployed, college dropout living back at home... Today I have a great job and am headed back to #NOLA... Woohoo!
Pat McAfee, Colts punter
Sooo I think I'm gonna go send some pigs to the moon over at the facility.
We report Sunday and begin to ballout on Monday. Let's doooo this
Connor Barth, Bucs kicker
It is official...I now have a job again! Football is back!
Gettin the car all washed up and I can hit the road in the morning...tampppaaaa babbyyyy!
Garrett Hartley, Saints kicker
I'm excited that the wait and anticipation is over and we will be back to work tomorrow. Much love for our reps ironing out the details
Chris Kluwe, Vikings punter
So I'm seeing a bunch of sites reporting w have a deal in place. C'mooooon carrier pigeon, flap those little wings! #mineprobablyhasbirdflu
I got to talk to my coach. IT FELT SO WEIRD. #whowasthatmaskedman
Josh Scobee, Jaguars kicker
Headed to the stadium in a bit. 1st priority: make sure my favorite couch and tv still remember me. #kickermeeting
Kevin Huber, Bengals punter
Time to get back to work! Heading down to the stadium to get some work in #whodey
Rob Bironas, Titans kicker
Just got off the field. Only 1 or 2 more days at Father Ryan, then back to the Titans facility.
Brett Kern, Titans punter
On my way to the complex !!!
Jon Ryan, Seahawks punter
Work time!!!
Reggie Hodges, Browns punter
Thanks for hangin in there Browns fans!! I expected nothing less, you guys were great!
Tim Masthay, Packers punter
Looking forward to trading turf fields in Kentucky, Arkansas, San Diego, Whitewater and De Pere for the grass of Ray Nitschke Fields!!!
Nick Folk, free agent (Jets) kicker
Happy to hear we will have football soon!! Going to be a very interesting and intense few days!!
David Akers, free agent (Eagles) kicker
We are ready. Let's get this thing cranked up!!! Where can I find a home now?
Steve Weatherford, free agent (Jets) kicker
Unemployment has been quite kind, but its time for daddy to get back to work, now all i need to know is what team im playing for... #Mystery

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Long Road from Australia to the NFL, part 3

Another year, and another wave of Australian punters have either landed roster spots at U.S. colleges, with their eye ultimately on the NFL, or are looking to directly tryout for the NFL.

Sam Irwin-Hill,

City College of San Francisco
Australia experience: Bendigo Pioneer, Eaglehawk Football Club
"It’s a fairly different sport to AFL. It’s a different technique and it took a while to get used to it, but once I started training I adjusted to it pretty well....

I won’t be able to play division one straight away because of my academic situation, but that is something I can improve on. The only reason I missed out is because I didn’t complete two core subjects during year 12, because they base it on your results from year nine to year 12 and I didn’t have the necessary core subjects. I’ve got to do a certain amount of core units to be eligible to go to division one after that, so that will be my focus. It means that if I want to get on the track I have to perform in my studies as well....

We started doing plyometric training, which is basically speeding up from a short start and building up your exclusivity and acceleration. It involves a lot of jumping and a lot of squat jumps, and things I haven’t really had to do before. I know that if I want to get the best out of myself before I go this is the right sort of thing to do."
Alex Kinal, Wake Forest
Australia experience: Sturt and West Adelaid
"I saw (American football) on TV and thought I’d try it. I gave it a crack and I guess it paid dividends. I’m the new kid on the block. I’m learning the game slowly. We start summer camp in August and I have to prove myself....

Playing NFL is always in the back of your mind, it’s the ultimate goal. Each time when I kick the ball, that’s the only thing I think about. For the first year I just want to get over there, get into it, do the job and do it well and then start ramping it up once I get used to the environment and get bigger and stronger."
Australia experience: Bungaree and 2001 Central Highlands senior league
“Ever since I was a kid, people have always commented on the long kick I have.  I have heard many stories about my dad, Leo, being a big kick – he taught me how to kick so I think that’s where I got it from. Punting is not just about distance, it is about hang time as well, so you have to have the power in your leg to get both....

I arrived in the USA at the end of May and spent one month training and attending kicking and punting camps in New Orleans and Orlando. For the last month, I have been based in Green Bay, Wisconsin, training with [Chris] Bryan and Josh Bartel and waiting for the lockout to end so I can attend workouts with interested teams....

Obviously, it would be amazing to get an NFL contract, especially being a country footballer who has never played professional AFL. My short-term goals are to get signed to an NFL team, get through the pre-season competition, perform well and make it on to the regular roster. It’s a cut-throat business and every day you are competing for your spot. Long-term, my goals are to establish myself as a competitive punter in the NFL, as well as keep learning and improving my skills.”

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Kicking in the 60's

The 1960's gave us a diverse array of topics, including, but certainly not limited to: Vietnam, Bonanza, the British invasion, JFK, surfing, the Berlin Wall, The Sound of Music, Martin Luther King Jr., mop tops, the pill, the space race, Easy Rider, tie-dye, Star Trek, Che Guevara, women's lib, Woodstock, Laugh-in, and Andy Warhol. The kicking world also saw a diverse array of events - some significant, some less so.

1960-1969 The American Football League (AFL) included the option of the two-point conversion after touchdowns.

1962 In the final week of the season, in the fourth quarter, Roger LeClerc’s 9 yard FG was the only score in Chicago’s 3-0 win over Detroit. 

1964 The Buffalo Bills signed rookie Pete Gogolak (Cornell University), the first soccer style kicker.

1965 The NCAA increased the size of permitted tee to 2”.

1966 Bruce Gossett attempted 49 FGs (2-way tie for most in an NFL season) for the Los Angeles Rams.

1966 Charlie Gogolak made nine PATs (3-way tie for most in one NFL game) for Washington against the NY Giants.

1966 Goal posts offset from the goal line, painted bright yellow, and with uprights 20 feet above the crossbar were made standard in the NFL.

1966 NFL NY Giants signed away AFL Buffalo Bills' Pete Gogolak for $96,000 (the largest deal ever for kicker at that time), opening the floodgates which ultimately resulted in the merger of the two leagues.

1967 "sling-shot" goal posts were made standard in the NFL.

1967 Ice Bowl: Don Chandler (Green Bay) vs. Danny Villanueva (Dallas).

1967 Jim Bakken attempted nine FGs (most in one NFL game) and made seven (5-way tie for second most) for St. Louis against Pittsburgh.

1967 Ted Gerela became the first kicking specialist in the CFL.

1968 First NFL game ever played on artificial turf, Kansas City at Houston (on the Astrodome’s Astroturf).

1968 Last time a FG was made on a fair-catch free-kick: Mac Percival’s 43 yarder with 20 seconds remaining gave Chicago a 13-10 win at Green Bay.

1968 Super Bowl II - Green Bay 33, Oakland 14 Packers kicker Don Chandler made four field goals (tied for most in one Super Bowl game).

If I missed anything, please let me know!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Kicking in the 00's

The recently completed first decade of the twenty-first century saw plenty of kicks, including quite a few record setting ones.

1999-2001 Matt Stover made at least one FG in 38 straight games (most consecutive games in NFL) for Baltimore.

1999-2007 Jeff Wilkins was successful on 371 straight PAT attempts (2-way tie for second most consecutive in NFL) for St. Louis.

2000 First NFL game ever played on FieldTurf, St. Louis at Seattle (at the University of Washington’s Husky Stadium).

2000 Sebastian Janikowski became the fourth (fifth if you count the 1984 supplemental USFL draft) and most recent kicker to be drafted in the first round.

2001 Jeff Chandler made a 51 yard FG for Florida in the Sugar Bowl against Miami (2-way tie for longest in Bowl Championship Series history).

2001 Ashley Martin of Jacksonville State became the first female to score in an NCAA Division One (D1-AA) game, with 3 PATs in 71-10 win over Cumberland.

2001 Dominico Bartolacci of Saint Mary’s (CIS Atlantic Provinces) kicked a record 15 converts, most in a Canadian college game, against Mount Allison.

2001 Cameron Peterka of University of North Dakota hit a 59 yarder, longest FG in an NCAA playoff game, during a 38-0 win over Pittsburgh State in the Division II quarter-finals.

2002 Jeff Wilkins (St. Louis) was the last NFL kicker to kick barefoot, resurrecting the 80’s fad for the first part of the 2002 season.

2002 Super Bowl XXXVI - New England 20, St. Louis 17 Kicker Adam Vinatieri made a 48 yard field goal on the final play of the game to give the Patriots their first title.

2002 NFL rule changes: the chop-block technique is illegal on kicking plays; and after a kickoff, the game clock will start when the ball is touched legally in the field of play (previously, the clock started immediately when the ball was kicked).

2002-2004 Mike Vanderjagt was successful on 42 straight FG attempts (most consecutive in NFL) for Indianapolis.

2003 Billy Cundiff made seven FGs (5-way tie for second most in one game) for Dallas vs. NY Giants (OT).

2003 Tonya Butler of West Alabama College (NCAA DII) became the first female to make a FG in a college game, with a 37 yarder in 17-37 loss to Delta State.

2003 Katie Hnida of New Mexico became the first female to score in Division 1-A game, with 2 PATS in 72-8 win over Texas State San Marcos.

2003 NFL rule changes: If an onside kick inside the final five minutes of the game does not go 10 yards, goes out of bounds, or is touched illegally, the receiving team will have the option of accepting the penalty and getting the ball immediately (previously, the kicking team was penalized, but had another chance to kick again from five yards back).

2003 Jeff Wilkins scored 163 points (second most in an NFL season) for St. Louis.

2003 Following multiple penalties, David Rosenblum kicked a 51 yard PAT (record longest conversion) for Wilson H.S. against Springarn H.S. (D.C.).

2003 Mike Vanderjagt was perfect on all 37 FGs. He scored 157 points (third most in an NFL season) for Indianapolis.

2004 Heidi Garrett of Martin Luther King HS (Riverside, Cal.) made a 48 yard FG, longest by a female at any level, in 24-14 win over Menifee Paloma Valley.

2004 NFL rule changes: a punt or missed field goal that is untouched by the receiving team is immediately dead once it touches either the end zone or any member of the kicking team in the end zone (previously, a punt or missed field goal that lands in the end zone before being controlled by the kicking team could be picked up by a member of the receiving team and immediately run the other way).

2004 Neil Rackers made three 50+ yard FGs (3-way tie for most in one game) for Arizona against Seattle.

2004 Jon Peattie made a 51 yard FG for Miami (Fla) in the Orange Bowl against Florida State (2-way tie for longest in Bowl Championship Series history).

2004 Super Bowl XXXVIII - New England 32, Carolina 29 Further cementing his "clutch" legend, Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri hit a 41 yard game winning field goal with four seconds remaining.

2005 Neil Rackers made 40 FGs (most in an NFL season) for Arizona.

2005 The NFL granted a special exception to New Orleans for the year, allowing them to use offset goalposts (two base legs) in addition to the league standard slingshot goalposts (single base leg)… this was necessitated when they had to play some of their home games at LSU following Hurricane Katrina.

2005 NFL rule changes: unnecessary roughness will be called for blocks away from the play on punters or kickers; during field goal and extra point attempts, the defensive team will be penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct if it calls consecutive timeouts in an attempt to "ice" the kicker (previously, the second timeout request was only denied by officials, and thus could be used to distract the kickers); if the kicking team commits a penalty, the receiving team can have the option of adding five yards to the return or taking a penalty and forcing the kicking team to re-kick the ball.

2006 NFL rule change: Defensive players cannot line up directly over the long snapper during field goal and extra point attempts.

2006 Matt Bryant made a 62 yard FG (third longest in NFL history) for Tampa Bay against Philadelphia.

2007 NFL rule change: modified the K-ball usage in a game.

2007 Morten Andersen finished his NFL career with 2544 points (most ever).

2007 Kris Brown made three 50+ yard FGs (3-way tie for most in one game) for Houston against Miami.

2007 Rob Bironas made eight FGs (most in one game) for Tennessee against Houston.

2007 Shayne Graham made seven FGs (5-way tie for second most in one game) for Cincinnati against Baltimore.

2007 Stephen Gostkowski attempted and was successful on all 74 PATs (most in a season) for New England.

2008 NFL rule change: field goal attempts that bounce off the goal post are now reviewable under instant replay (courtesy of the previous season’s game tying FG by Phil Dawson for Cleveland against Baltimore).

2008 Jason Hanson made eight 50+ yard FGs (2-way tie for most in a season) for Detroit.

2008 Sebastian Janikowski was short and wide right on a 76 yard FG attempt (longest attempt in documented history) for Oakland.

2009 Fabrizio Scaccia of the St. Lucie Bobcats (Florida Football Alliance) made a 68 yard FG in 54-24 win over South Brevard Rams.

2009 Jeff Schebler of Wisconsin-Whitewater became the highest scoring kicker in NCAA career history and won the inaugural annual Fred Mitchell Outstanding Place-Kicker Award.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Lou Groza Award 2011 Watch List, part 3

The annual Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award recently released their 2011 Preseason Watch List.

In alphabetical order, following is the final third of the watch list.

Grant Ressel, Missouri
Ressel, who has been a Groza semi-finalist each of the last two years, has made a combined 96.2% (127-of-132) of his total kicks over the last two seasons (43-of-46 FGs, and 84-of-86 PATs). In 2010, Ressel went 17-of-19 on field goals and led the Tigers with 96 points scored. That followed his amazing break out season in 2009, when he won 1st-Team All-American honors after breaking an NCAA single-season combined kick accuracy record (made 65-of-66 overall kicks that season, for a 98.5% success rate).
Bryson Rose, Mississippi
A preseason All-SEC pick by Phil Steele, Rose earned first team Sophomore All-America honors a year ago after connecting on 16-of-18 field goals and 43-of-44 PATs. In his first season as the starter, he finished third in the SEC in field goals per game and fifth in scoring among kickers. Rose is looking to become the second Groza Award recipient in school history, joining 2003 Rebel winner Jonathan Nichols.
David Ruffer, Notre Dame
He was the first Irish player in school history to be named a finalist for the award in 2010. Ruffer simply had the most accurate and productive season ever by an Irish kicker last year. He connected on 18 of his 19 field goal attempts, including each of his first 18. Ruffer actually established school records for consecutive field goals made in a career (23, longest in the NCAA FBS at the time), consecutive field goals made in a season (18, longest in the NCAA FBS at the time) and single-season field goal percentage (.947). The 18 field goals in a single season ranked as the third-most in school history. He also became the second Irish place kicker to ever register multiple field goals of 50 yards or longer in the same season.
Jimmy Stevens, Oklahoma
This is the third year in a row that Stevens has been among the 30 players named to the preseason watch list for the Groza Award, but he has never been part of the group of 20 semifinalists announced later in the season. A native of Oklahoma City, Stevens has struggled with inconsistency at times. He was benched at the beginning of last year in favor of Patrick O'Hara, but he regained his starting spot in Week 4. He finished the season strong, making 12 of his final 13 field goal attempts.
Will Snyderwine, Duke
A two-time semifinalist for the award, enters his final season having made 38-of-44 (.864) field goals and all 56 of his PAT attempts. Among active players nationally, he ranks first in career field goals made per game (1.65) and third in career field goal percentage. Last year, the Potomac, Md., native was a first team All-America selection by the American Football Coaches Association after booting a school single-season record 21 field goals and totaling 95 points - the second-highest single-season total in Duke history.
Dave Teggart, Connecticut
Teggart had a dramatic flair in 2010 with a pair of game-winning field goals as the Huskies made their run to the BCS. In the UConn record book, he is first in career field goals, first in single-season field goals, first in single-season consecutive extra points, second in career extra points, second in career points. Has made all 99 of his extra points attempts in his career. Teggart earned first team All-BIG EAST honors in 2010 and also earned All-ECAC honors. He is a member of the BIG EAST All-Academic team. He became UConn's starting kicker midway through the 2008 season and made his first 11 collegiate field goal attempts.
Justin Tucker, Texas
Tucker is a fourth-year kicker who has handled the kickoff duties in 39 games and placekicking duties in 12 games and has kicked off 258 times for an average of 62.9 ypk and 52 touchbacks. He is 23-of-27 (.852) on field goal attempts and 27-for-27 on PAT attempts for 96 career points. His .852 FG percentage ranks second on UT's career list. Tucker is also a rugby-style punter who has punted 92 times for 3,812 yards (41.4 ypk), including 17 over 50 yards, while landing 40 inside the 20. He has posted 15 career special-teams tackles and appeared in all 12 games in 2010 when he was an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection. Tucker was a prep All-American and two-time all-district performer and a versatile athlete who also saw action at cornerback, free safety and wide receiver as a prepster. He is a three-time member of UT's Athletics Director's Honor Roll.
Blair Walsh, Georgia
A native of Boca Raton, Fla., Walsh has already been named to Phil Steele and Lindy’s Preseason All-America First Team. The winner of the 2009 College Football Performance Awards Place-Kicker Trophy ranks fourth in UGA history with 303 point scored and has eight field goals over 50 yards in his career. Walsh has been named to UGA’s Team of the Decade following three years as the Bulldogs’ kicker. He has the highest field goal percentage for any active kicker in the SEC (81 percent) and has drilled 138 of 139 PATs, including his first 119 in a row.
Philip Welch, Wisconsin
Welch was a semifinalist for the Groza Award as a freshman in 2008, when he converted 20-of-24 field goals on his way to Freshman All-America honors. He also was named to the Groza preseason watch list as a sophomore in 2009. Welch scored 118 points for the Badgers last season, the third-highest total of any of this year’s Groza candidates. That total marked the Badgers’ school record for a kicker and ranks as the fourth-highest single-season scoring total in UW history. He also set single-season school records for both extra points attempted and extra points made, converting all 67 of his PAT tries in 2010. Welch also was good on 17 of 22 field goal attempts on the season, an accuracy of 77.2 percent. For his career, Welch holds UW’s school records for extra points attempted (156), extra points made (153) and extra-point percentage (.981). Welch also ranks No. 2 all-time at UW with both his 54 made field goals and his field goal percentage of .771.
Alex Zendejas, Arizona
Zendejas connected on 14 of 19 field goals for the Arizona Wildcats last season, earned a College Football Performance Award for his success against UCLA, and finished as the UA's leading scorer for the second consecutive season. Zendejas, who will be a senior, has connected on 75 percent of his career field-goal attempts.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lou Groza Award 2011 Watch List, part 2

The annual Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award recently released their 2011 Preseason Watch List. In alphabetical order, following is the second third of the watch list.

Trey Farquhar, Idaho
Farquhar is Idaho's single-season record-holder for field goals made with 18 and is tied for field goal attempts in a season with 25 and is fifth on the single-season field goal percentage list at .720 – all in the 2010 season. In two seasons so far at Idaho, he is sixth in field goals made with 31 and second on the career field goal percentage list at .668. He was a second-team all-Western Athletic Conference choice as a freshman.
Erik Folk, Washington
Folk is coming off a season that saw the senior from Woodland Hills, Calif., connect on 13-of-20 field goals while also making all 33 of his PAT attempts. His best effort came at USC, when Folk hit all four of his field goals, including the game-winning 32-yarder as time expired.
Nate Freese, Boston College
Freese connected on 22-of-25 field goal attempts during his freshman season, tied with Florida State's Dustin Hopkins for the conference lead in field goals made. Freese also made 24-of-25 PATs. Due to the an extremely offensively challenged Eagles squad, no kicker was more important to his team than Freese was last season. Freese's 90 points accounted for 37.5 percent of the Eagles total points in 2010, the highest percentage in the nation.
Kevin Goessling, Fresno State
The senior kicker from Placentia was an All-Western Athletic Conference pick last season after leading the Bulldogs in scoring with 105 points, making 21 of 26 field goals and was 42 of 44 in PATs. Last week, Goessling was named to the College Football Performance Award Watch List.
Jack Griffin, Florida International
Griffin connected on 17-of-20 field goal attempts last season for the Golden Panthers, and was perfect in 45 PAT attempts. Griffin played on the kickoff team during his freshman season.
Zach Hocker, Arkansas
Hocker was named to the 2010 SEC All-Freshman Team after scoring 104 points, 56-56 on PATs and 16-19 on field goals. Hocker's 104 points scored were seventh in the SEC and rank as the fourth-highest single-season total in school history and the third most by a kicker. His .842 field goal percentage ranked third in the SEC and tied for 21st in the NCAA and is the third-best single-season percentage (min. 10 attempts) in school history. His long of 51 yards was an Arkansas freshman record and the longest by any UA kicker since 1988.
Dustin Hopkins, Florida State
As a sophomore, Hopkins was a semifinalist for the award last season. He was 22-for-28 on field goals. His 55-yarder against Clemson as time expired was his longest of the year. During starts, Hopkins has handled all of the kickoff, field goal and PAT duties for FSU. Last season, he scored a career-high 119 points to lead the team and the ACC. The number was the third-most in a single-season in FSU history.
Danny Hrapmann, Southern Miss
Hrapmann finished his junior campaign by converting all 55 extra points and making 26-of-31 field goals. He added a school-record five field goals against East Carolina and his season point total of 133 also established a school mark. Other records included season marks for most extra points made (55), consecutive extra points made (55) and highest extra points percentage (100 percent with the most ever attempted), most field goals made in a season (26) and most attempts (31), to go along with game records for most points (19 vs. ECU), and highest career percentage of 78.9 percent (30-of-38).
Aaron Jones, Baylor
Jones was a semifinalist for Lou Groza Award in 2010. He earned All-Big 12 and Big 12 All-Freshman honors following a record-setting first season of competition. Jones broke Baylor single-season records for field goals made (19), scoring by kickers (103 points), field goals attempted (27), PATs attempted (47) and shares the PATs made record (46) with Jarvis Van Dyke. He was named an honorable mention All-Big 12 (league coaches) and Big 12 All-Freshman (,
Ross Krautman, Syracuse
Krautman made 18 of 19 field goals in his first season, including 16 in a row. His percentage (.947), consecutive makes and number of field goals all tied SU marks set in 1981 by Gary Anderson. The rising sophomore from Franklin Lakes, N.J., was a freshman All-American and a second-team All-Big East selection.
Abel Perez, San Diego St.
Selected All-Mountain West Second Team for the 2010 college football season as selected by the nine league head coaches and select media panel. SDSU junior place-kicker Abel Perez, in his first season on The Mesa, posted a league-best 28 touchbacks on kick offs and converted 17 of his 22 field-goal attempts (77.3 %). He leads the MWC in field goals per game (1.42) and in scoring (8.3 ppg.).

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Lou Groza Award 2011 Watch List, part 1

The annual Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award recently released their 2011 Preseason Watch List. The following comes from the official press release:

Kickers on the Lou Groza Award Watch List were chosen based on statistics from the 2010 season and 2011 pre-season expectations. Nine semi-finalists are returning from 2010. The Big 12 leads all conferences with 5 kickers on the Pre-season Watch List. The Big 10, ACC, and Big East each have 4 kickers on the list. The SEC and Pac-10, both represented in the 2011 BCS National Championship, have 3 kickers each on the list. The Groza Committee will be watching all FBS kickers during the season, and releasing a weekly “Stars of the Week” feature.

The Award, is named for National Football League (NFL) Hall of Fame kicker Lou “The Toe” Groza, who played 21 seasons with the Cleveland Browns. Groza won four NFL championships with Cleveland and was named NFL Player of the Year in 1954. Although an “All Pro” offensive lineman, Groza ushered in the notion that there should be a place on an NFL roster for a kicker.

In alphabetical order, following is the first third of the watch list.

Michael Barbour, East Carolina
Barbour immediately provided stability to the Pirates' kicking game in 2010 after arriving as a transfer from Maryland. He established ECU single-season records for points after touchdowns (56) and total points by a kicker (104). The Oyster Bay, N.Y., native was a Conference USA Head Coaches Second-Team All-C-USA, Second-Team All-C-USA and Phil Steele Magazine Second-Team All-C-USA selection following the season. In addition, he was honored by his teammates with the program's newcomer-of-the-year award.
Casey Barth, North Carolina
Barth, a native of Wilmington, N.C., is the ACC's active career leader with 50 field goals. Last season, he earned honorable-mention All-ACC honors after converting 19 of 22 field goal attempts, including a long of 49, as well as all 38 extra point attempts. He owns the school record for most consecutive extra points made (currently at 71). He has not missed an extra point since the season opener in 2009. Barth enters the 2011 season needing just five made field goals to pass his brother, Connor, to become UNC's career record holder. Casey has three game-winning kicks to his credit, including a 23-yarder vs. Tennessee in last season's Music City Bowl and a 21-yarder at Virginia Tech in 2009.
Rob Beard, Oregon
2010: All-Pac-10 fourth team according to Phil Steele Publications. Ranked fourth in the Pac-10 and 36th nationally in scoring with an average of 8.08 points per game. Ranked eighth on the UO single-season scoring list with 97 points. Made his first eight field goal attempts of the season and finished 10 for 13. 769 FG percentage was good for 10th in a single season at Oregon. Averaged 64.5 yards on 95 kickoffs with 11 touchbacks. Hit on his first 59 PAT kicks of the year before missing following UO’s first touchdown at Oregon State.
Maikon Bonani, USF
2010: Played in all 13 games... handled the kickoff duties during the first nine games and the place-kicking duties for the last 11 games. made 17-of-21 field goal attempts, including four of over 40 yards. the 81.0 field goal percentage ranks first on USF's single-season list and was second in the BIG EAST. the 17 made field goals ranks second on USF's single-season list. was 13-for-13 on attempts under 40 yards and 17-of-19 on attempts under 50 yards. posted a season-long 47-yard field goal at West Virginia. tabbed BIG EAST Special Teams Player of the Week after making 47 and 21-yard field goals and converting two extra points against Rutgers. hit three field goals of 42, 38 and 22 yards against Connecticut.
Randy Bullock, Texas A&M
Selected All-Big 12 Honorable Mention for the 2010 college football season as selected by the Big 12 coaches. Scoring a total of 98 points with 16-of-21 field goal attempts, and a perfect 50-of-50 extra point attempts. 2009: 12-for-19 on the season in field goals. was 51-for-51 on year in extra points and has made 70 in a row (71-of-72 in career). 51 XPts in `09 tied the school's single-season record. 2008 (freshman): Earned the starting place kicking job halfway through the season. made six of his seven field goal attempts and was a perfect six of six from inside 40 yards.
Dan Conroy, Michigan St.
Has made 94 percent of his field goals (15-for-16) and 98 percent of his PATs (45-for-46). his 14 consecutive field goals made to open his career marked the best start for a placekicker in MSU history; it also ranked as the second-longest streak in MSU history overall (record: 15 by Brett Swenson in 2008). has made five field goals from 40-plus yards. 2010: in his first year as the starting placekicker, went 14-for-15 in field goals to earn first-team All-Big Ten honors from both the coaches and media. also a first-team All-Big Ten selection by and
Derek Dimke, Illinois
Dimke was a semifinalist for the Groza Award last season, when he connected on 24 of 29 field goals to tie the UI record for made field goals in a season and earn second team All-Big Ten honors. His 115 points scored in 2010 broke Rashard Mendenhall’s school record (114 in 2007). Dimke did establish a new UI scoring mark for kickers, topping Neil Rackers’ 110 points in 1999. The Boylan graduate ranked sixth in the nation in field goals made per game last season (1.85) and connected twice from more than 50 yards, including a career-long 52-yarder in the season opener against Missouri. His career field goal accuracy of 85.3 percent is the highest in school history, just ahead of Peter Christofilakos’ record of 84.0 from 1999-02.
Ross Evans, TCU
2010: Appeared on the watch list for the Lou Groza Award, honoring the nation's top placekicker. ranked third in the Mountain West Conference in scoring with 101 points while tying for 48th nationally at 7.8 points per game. set a TCU single-game record with nine extra points in the 66-17 win at New Mexico. made his first eight field-goal attempts of the season. had a field goal in eight of the 13 games with three contests of multiple kicks made. had a season-long 43-yard effort at Colorado State. 11-of-13 on field goals for the season, making him 42-of-51 in his career. the 42 field goals moved him into fourth all-time at TCU. his TCU single-season record 68 extra-points made gave him the Horned Frogs' career PAT mark of 178.
Mitch Ewald, Indiana
Ewald finished his first season as a Hoosier 16-for-19 on field goals in 2010. The 16 field goals tied Bill Manolopoulos for the third most on IU’s single-season list. He also hit all 33 of his extra point opportunities. The 33 extra points were the seventh most on the school’s single-season list. The Naperville, Ill., native earned Big Ten All-Freshman honors from both and last year. Ewald became the first Hoosier to collect Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors and the first to card Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week since 2007, following his game-winning field goal at Purdue.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Ray Guy Award 2011 Watch List

The Augusta Sports Council announced the preseason watch list for the 2011 Ray Guy Award, which honors the nation’s top collegiate punter.
The preseason list recognizes the five returning Ray Guy Award semi-finalists from 2010. The number of eligible candidates for this season will grow when the award opens for nominations in mid-August. The complete list of candidates will be released on October 28. In early November, the Ray Guy Award committee will meet to select the ten semi-finalists, who will be announced on November 11. A national body of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) sports information directors, coaches, media representatives, and previous Ray Guy Award winners will then vote for the top three finalists, to be announced on November 21. After the finalists are named, the voting body will cast ballots again to select the nation’s top punter. The winner will be announced live during the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show airing on ESPN on Thursday, December 8.
Bryan Anger, California
A two-time semifinalist for the honor previously, Anger ranks second in school history with a 43.3 yards-per-punt average over his career. Anger enters his senior campaign having recorded 54 punts of at least 50 yards. He has pinned opponents inside their 20-yard line on 71 occasions and forced opponents into fair catches 62 times. Overall, Anger has posted four of the 12 longest punts in school history, including a career-long 76-yarder vs. Stanford in 2008 that ranks fourth. He was a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award in both 2008 and 2010 and has been voted the Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week three times.
Drew Butler, Georgia
A native of Duluth, Butler became only the seventh Bulldog in school history to be named an All-American both athletically and academically after being named a 2010 ESPN Academic All-American. He is on pace to become the career leader at UGA for punting average with a 46.1 mark through three seasons. In 2010, Butler averaged 44.5 yards on 50 punts, 15 that went for 50-plus. The son of former NFL standout and Bulldog All-American Kevin Butler, he helped put the Bulldogs at second in the SEC and fourth in the nation in net punting with an average of 40.6 last year.
Kyle Martens, Rice
Martens enters his senior season with a 42.7 yards per punt career average. Last year the Spearfish, S.D., native led Conference USA and ranked third in the national with a school-record 45.98 yard punting average. He placed 42 percent of his punts in 2010 inside opponents' 20 yard line during the year (22-of-52). Martens earned All-America and All-Conference USA honors following a spectacular junior season. He was a second-team Walter Camp All-America pick who was also received All-America recognition from the American Football Coaches Association.
Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
One week after the sophomore punter set a new school record by averaging 60.4 yards on five punts against Nebraska (including a career-best 78-yarder), he was OSU’s nominee for Big 12 special teams player of the week for his efforts at Kansas State. Against the Wildcats, Sharp averaged “only” 41.3 yards on his efforts. But he was a huge factor in the game as he had four punts downed inside the K-State 10-yard line (4, 8, 7, 1). Against Baylor, his lone punt went for 59 yards.
Dawson Zimmerman, Clemson
Zimmerman averaged 42.7 yards per punt last year, including a 40.6 net average. His net figure was fourth best in Clemson history and best by any Clemson punter since 1984 (Dale Hatcher). Hatcher had 19 punts inside the 20 and just seven touchbacks. For his career he has 15 punts of 50 yards or more, including two punts of at least 76 yards. His 79 yard punt against North Texas last year was the second longest in school history. An English Major who made the President's List (4.0) last semester, Zimmerman was named to the Academic All-ACC team last year.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Kicking in the 70's

The 1970's gave us Watergate, 8-track tapes, The Godfather, Earth Day, pocket calculators, All in the Family, an oil crisis, sideburns, Roe v. Wade, Voyager, disco and punk, pong, the Camp David Accords, Star Wars, platform shoes and polyester, terrorists, Laverne & Shirley, Roots, a test tube baby, pet rocks, and Three Mile Island. But we're not here to discuss those, we're here to talk kicking - as always.

1970 Super Bowl IV, Kansas City 23, Minnesota 7: The Chiefs built a 16-0 lead by half time, including three field goals by Jan Stenerud, the first soccer style kicker to play in a Super Bowl.

1970 Tom Dempsey made a 63 yard FG (2-way tie for longest) for New Orleans against Detroit.

1971 Curt Knight attempted 49 FGs (2-way tie for most in a season) for Washington.

1971 Super Bowl V, Baltimore 16, Dallas 13: In a game dominated by defense and eleven turnovers, the Colts won in the final seconds on kicker Jim O'Brien's 32 yard field goal.

1972 NFL rule change: hashmarks were moved nearer the center of the field, 23 yards, 1 foot, 9 inches from the sidelines… the hashmarks were now 18 feet, 6 inches apart (the same width as the goalposts), cutting down on severe angles for short field goal attempts.

1973 Two years after his original curve ball pitching machine, John Paulson created the first JUGS football machine, which allowed kickers and punters to rest while the return teams could still practice.

1973 Gerry Organ became the first soccer style kicker to play in the CFL's Grey Cup (Ottawa Rough Riders).

1973 Super Bowl VII, Miami 14, Washington 7: Despite a highly successful NFL career, Dolphins kicker Garo Yepremian is often remembered by many for his ill-fated pass attempt that resulted in the Redskins' only score of the game.

1974 Offensive lineman and kicker Lou Groza was elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame.

1974 NFL rule changes: the goal posts were moved from the goal line to the end lines and the uprights would be extended to 30 feet above the crossbar in an effort to decrease the number of field goals; kickoffs were moved from the 40 back to the 35-yard line; and after missed field goals from beyond the 20, the ball was to be returned to the line of scrimmage.

1975 Former Wittenberg University and semi-pro kicker Fred Mitchell presented to Wilson Sporting Goods the idea of manufacturing kicking nets to be deployed on the sideline for high school, college and professional kickers to warm up.

1976 Ove Johansson kicked the longest recorded field goal at any level, a 69 yarder off a two inch tee, for Abilene Christian against East Texas State (NAIA).

1976  Tony Franklin of Texas A&M became the only kicker to ever hit two 60+ yard FGs in one game, with 64 and 65 yarders off a two inch tee (NCAA).

1976 Gus the Miracle Mule (California Atoms) proves to arguably be the greatest kicker ever.

1978 NCAA rule change: after missed field goals from beyond the 20, the ball was to be returned to the line of scrimmage.

1979 Monsoon Bowl: Neil O'Donoghue (Tampa Bay) vs. Jan Stenerud (Kansas City).

1979 NFL rule change: prohibited players on the receiving team from blocking below the waist during kickoffs, punts, and field-goal attempts.

1979 Tony Franklin (Philadelphia) was the first kicker to kick barefoot in the NFL.

Friday, July 1, 2011

SIFL Championship: Geoff Boyer vs. Blake Bercegeay

Another of the indoor football leagues reaches its grand finale this weekend:
The Southern Indoor Football League’s third championship game will take place on Saturday, July 2 when the Albany Panthers (12-2) host the Louisiana Swashbucklers (10-4) in the James H. Gray Civic Center. Pre-game festivities start at 7 p.m. with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m. It’s the first championship game appearance for Albany, who defeated the defending SIFL champion Columbus Lions 75-61 in the East finals on Saturday. Louisiana will make its third SIFL championship appearance in as many years after dispatching previously unbeaten Houston 56-41 Monday in the West finals. Last year, the Swashbucklers upset Albany for a berth in the title game.
In preparation for the game, we take a quick look at the two key players (the kickers for each team).

Albany Panthers, Geoff Boyer
Geoff took over the kicking for the Panthers part way through this season. Last month, he added a new twist - the drop kick. The higher scoring play has occasionally appeared in other indoor leagues, however this was an apparent first for the SIFL:
"I like doing it. I hadn’t planned on kicking it on that play, but I was just scrambling and I just thought, ‘Why not?’. I was a goalie growing up and playing soccer,’’ Boyer said. “About half the goalies use a drop-kick. I liked it because you can get more drive into the ball and it doesn’t go as high, so I always did it.... This has been great. I feel pretty confident (with the drop-kick), but it’s up to the coach. If he wants me to do it, I’ll do it."

Louisiana Swashbucklers, Blake Bercegeay
We recently checked in with Blake on this year vs. last year:
"Last year snuck up on us it seems. This year we've been battling back to get to where we know we should be. As far as what I've done, nothing has changed other than mind set and knowing I will do my best no excuses. If I'm playing I'm playing. Miss and forget, make and forget. Trust your training and your skills and the score board and crowd will tell you if you made it. Your teammates and brothers too. One small other thing, keep your HEAD DOWN!"