the study of all things kicker related

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

UIFL Ultimate Kickers 2012

The United Indoor Football League's second season kicks off this Thursday March 1st. Who will be doing the kicking? What have they been doing to prepare?

"The biggest thing is the uno rule on kickoff. Instead of keeping the ball in play, i can just kick it through the uprights and get a point. Everything else has stayed the same for me." - Brandon
Eastern Kentucky Drillers: Scott Enos (Hawaii)

"I have been doing this for so long since '02 seems like the same old stuff. I have increased my strength and my main focus as usual was the weight room and conditioning. I know it is weird for a kicker to say that, but strength is just as important as accuracy. I wish I lived a little closer to Erie for the commute is gonna be rough but it will be nice to be 'home'."
"There's two aspects of my game I've been working on hard for this season. One is my accuracy with field goals. With the smaller uprights and how often field goals are kicked in arena games, field goals are a huge part of the game. The second is my onside kicks and pooch kicks for kickoffs and field goals. They are utilized a lot more in the arena. I'm working on new surprise kicks as well as perfecting the ones I already know."
Johnstown Generals: TBA


Marion Blue Racers: Kevin Tattersall or Trey Cramer

Mississippi Hound Dogs: TBA

Rome Rampage: Jaye Tyroff
"I have been working on my mechanics preparing for the smaller uprights and kickoffs/onside kicks. I have been kicking on the regular NFL regulation uprights but for the past 6months or so been using the Arena 9ft wide uprights... Which I do normally train with. If you can kick it through the 9ft wide uprights the normal 18ft wide goals should be a piece of cake right! As far as my kickoffs go I have been adjusting my steps from my normal 10yds back to my arena steps of 6yds. I'm looking forward to having a great season and we will see what happens. Go Rampage!"
Western Pennsylvania Sting: TBA

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Scouting Combine 2012: Kicker & Punter Comments

A collection of commentary from the specialists at the NFL Scouting Combine the past few days:

"There's a room full of coaches and a different room full of doctors pulling on you, yanking on your joints and twisting you in different ways. Everybody that's been a part of the combine says it's a big cattle drive.... We had eight hours of testing. Basic pattern testing to colors, IQ test and that type of thing. They showed us a picture of three, four different animals and which animal would you be. Do I want to be a dog so I can be everybody's best friend or do I want to be a bird so I can fly? It was fun going through the experience."
"My dad [Kevin Bulter] has been my best friend and my coach throughout my high school years. He’s definitely helped me out in college from a mental standpoint and a technical standpoint. He’s been a huge help. He’s already walked in these shoes and to be able kind of pick his brain and see how these things work and these coaches think, and how the business of the NFL goes, is very helpful. Obviously, I don’t know it all. Having that ability to know to relate to some of these people and to have that professional mindset will help."
"Coach [Mike] Sherman and I are very close. We’ve stayed in contact throughout the whole process, even after he left Texas A&M. He’s been a whole lot of help whether it’s advice for agents or the maybe the process that lies ahead. We text back and forth and stay in touch. I think very highly of coach Sherman and he’s definitely one of the reasons why I’m here right now."
"I was born and raised in Wisconsin, I don't know anything but the cold weather. The idea of warm weather all year just sounds unbelievable to me, so yeah I've done it. I've seen just about every situation weatherwise that I think I could, I could be wrong of course, but just in general, cold weather, wind, rain, none of it really concerns me, I'm so used to it by now.... There's nothing worse than a stiff wind in your face with the rain. Anything compared to that is paradise, really."
"I feel like I didn't get my best shot because right when I was making an impact to kick off, the head coach [Randy Edsall] left and Chad [Christen] came in as a kickoff specialist. He's booming the ball In practice, he puts them [deep]. Chad's going to be a great kicker for UConn. But yeah, I just didn't feel as though I got a chance to kick off there, and I know I can. That's what I have to prove here."
"The combine has been an awesome experience so far. It's an honor to be recognized as one of the top prospects in the country, and I look forward to raising my prospects when I punt Friday."
"I think you can show your combination of accuracy and distance. I think that’s important here. They want to see you be consistent. They want to see you do the same thing over and over again. Because when it comes down to it, there are always going to be guys who can kick 60-yard field goals, but not many guys can do it consistently. You have to be consistent in what you do and be methodical."
"This year I worked on more directional and getting our net (average) up. I think we averaged about a yard a return (allowed). I made it my goal because I wanted the NFL to see I’m not just a guy line-driving balls down field. I wanted to show I am putting coverable kicks up there — right, left, middle, wherever, doing Australian rules kicks. I am the total package."
"I’m just trying to learn as much as possible from everybody. There’s a lot of kickers that are a lot better than me, and if I can just pick up one or two things from all of them I feel like it can put me in a good position."

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Scouting Combine 2012: Specialists

The specialists arrive in Indianapolis tomorrow. The NFL draft eligible players are part of the first batch of participants in this year's Scouting Combine. The itinerary for the group, which also includes offensive lineman and tight ends, spans four days:
  • Wednesday 22nd: Travel to Indianapolis, Registration, Hospital Pre-Exam & X-rays, Orientation, Interviews
  • Thursday 23rd: Measurements, Medical Examinations, Media, Psychological Testing, Interviews
  • Friday 24th: NFLPA Meeting, Psychological Testing, PK/ST Workout, Interviews
  • Saturday 25th: Workout (timing, stations, skill drills), Departure from Indianapolis
Kickers:

"The NFL is a cut throat league. Not everyone is given the opportunity so to have it is amazing. I will cherish the opportunity and not take it for granted. It makes me want to work even harder to stay in the league. It is every college players goal to get to the NFL but only so many get the chance. Now that I am this close I would be crazy to not put all of my time and effort into it to make it work."
Dimke leaves Illinois as the program's all-time leader in field goal and extra point accuracy. Dimke hit 39-of-46 field goals (.848) and was perfect 89-89 on PATs at Illinois. He was a two-time All-Big Ten selection and finished his career ranked sixth on the UI all-time points list.
"It's obviously a great honor," Teggart said. "The way I see it is you go to school for something and you want to get a job in your field. I'm searching for a job and this is basically like a week-long interview."... Teggart, who graduated from UConn in December with a degree in sports management, has, for the last couple months, been back and forth between home and school to train with UConn's strength and conditioning coaches. He also spent time working with other specialists in Arizona and with former Tampa Bay Bucs kicker Michael Husted at his kicking camp in California. "I've invested some time and money in trying to be the best I can be,” said the former Algonquin Regional standout, “and hopefully it will all work out well."
412: Points scored by Georgia PK Blair Walsh, the most in SEC history. Walsh broke the mark of 409 set by Georgia PK Billy Bennett from 2000 through 2003 with a 47-yard field goal in the second overtime of the Outback Bowl. He missed his first shot at breaking the record -- a 42-yarder that would have won the game in the first overtime.
"It would be cool to say I got drafted, but sixth and seventh round isn’t that big of a deal," Wiggs said. "If I’m an undrafted free agent, I can pick where I go depending on who I think would give me the best opportunity. You never really know. It depends on if teams who need a kicker look toward (me)." For now, Wiggs is taking 12 credit hours toward his business construction management technology degree and working out Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays with former teammates Chris Carlino and Kurt Lichtenberg. He’s able to work on more kicker-specific workouts, focusing on leg speed, flexibility and cardio. "I’m not like (Ryan) Kerrigan was last year, guaranteed to go first round and make money," Wiggs said. "I need to keep working toward my degree. I’m just trying to get better and better every day."
Punters:

Anger shined for the winning West squad in the 87th East-West Shrine Game® at Tropicana Field. Anger averaged 60.0 yards per punt in three attempts for the 24-17 winners. Anger's first punt midway through the first quarter sailed 59 yards and he added another four yards of net punting when returner Charles Brown lost four yards bringing it back. Anger would later have punts of 60 and 61 yards in the third and fourth quarter, respectively. "I came in this week hoping to display my abilities, primarily hangtime, and get my name out there as the top punter in the nation," Anger said. "I am looking forward to kicking at the NFL Scouting Combine in February and then whatever else is to come afterwards."
"My dad laid out such a good framework for me to build upon," Butler said. "Having the opportunities that I had at Georgia and being able to capitalize on them was a huge blessing."... Butler hopes to show teams that he’s worthy of being drafted. "I think my career, in and of itself, has proven that I’m worth spending a draft pick on," Butler said. "I’ve been a consistent performer for three years. I’ve proven that I’m able to do whatever a coach has asked me to do: directional kick, kick it high, pin somebody inside the 20 and kick it long to get us out of a jam. That’s one of my strengths as a punter."
Concluded his career Rice's single-season and career punting record holder...
First team All C-USA by league coaches for the second consecutive year... Also a first-team pick by Phil Steele and College Football News, and a second-team selection by Rivals.com... First-team postseason All Texas College pick by Dave Campbell's Texas Football... Third consecutive year as a Ray Guy Award candidate
has three of the top six season marks... 3403 yards punting rank second, just missing the school mark of 3,452 set by Dan Walters in 1983.
Some observations from North team practice at the 2012 Senior Bowl: Brad Nortman also has been turning some heads. After Monday's practice, SI.com's Tony Pauline said, "Brad Nortman was kicking moon shots all afternoon. His punts were consistently flying 55-to-60 yards with great hang time." SB Nation also chimed in following Tuesday's practice, "Wisconsin punter Brad Nortman boomed his kicks and routinely got quite a bit of hang time, garnering him some attention from a few scouts after practice."
It was during a lively, yet competitive session of the "NCAA Football 2012" video game when Florida State punter Shawn Powell had some of his college football peers rubbing their eyes and double-taking in disbelief. "You're a punter?" eventual Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III kept saying, looking back at the 6-foor-4, 230-pound Powell standing behind him.... While most of Powell's peers are thrown off by his size and his fans were thrown off by the [Ray Guy] award slight, opposing teams and their fans have been shocked by the actual punts they have witnessed. "They start laughing when you start doing the (rugby) kick," Powell said of punting in front of opposing crowds. "And then, like at Boston College, it rolls out at the 5 and they're sad like, 'Aww.'"
Stahovich plans to seek advice and instruction from former NFL kicker John Carney prior to attending the NFL Combine or trying out for teams. Projections have him being a seventh-round draft pick or first-day free agent signing. "I think I can improve more in consistency and as far as directional punting, going right and going left," Stahovich said. "My pooch punting is one of the strongest things I have. I learned the Aussie rules backspin kick from (former Chargers punter) Darren Bennett himself."
Long Snapper:

Harris probably will not hear his name called during the draft. Only four of the NFL’s regular long-snappers in 2011 were drafted. Most of those guys were drafted as position players. But several NFL teams already have interviewed Harris at Senior Bowl practices. If he isn’t drafted, Henderson expects Harris to sign a contract an hour after the draft ends. The reality started to settle in when he packed for the Senior Bowl last week. Harris has a shot at a dream most college football players never realize. "To be honest, coming into this season, I thought I might get a chance to snap for scouts at Auburn’s Pro Day," Harris said. "To have all this happen, I’m really excited for the next couple of months."

Monday, February 20, 2012

IFL Intense Kickers 2012

Having previously looked at the kickers of the United Conference, we conclude our Indoor Football League preview with the Intense Conference. Once again some of the IFL kickers discussed what they've been working on for the upcoming season.

Allen Wranglers: David Pino
"I have really worked in accuracy by limiting my target to either the right or left upright pole. If I hit the upright, I am down the middle. If I miss 2-3 feet right or left of the upright, I know I'm still good. It has been a great way to narrow my accuracy by a few feet, which in turn will help once I'm aiming down the middle of the very wide 9 feet!!!"
Colorado Ice: Aric Goodman
"I've put an emphasis on increasing flexibility and ball flight. In many of the arenas that we'll play in, there are scoreboards that I'll need to be cognizant of. Having the ability to change the trajectory of kicks will be important at times. Another point of high importance is consistency...obviously. The IFL balls are slightly smaller than college/NFL, so it makes being consistent even that much more difficult."
Everett Raptors: Dan Kleckner
"Besides my normal off season strength training and kicking I worked with Gordon Kaplan of Team Yoga in Bellevue WA. We worked on improving my flexibility as well as working on the mental aspect of kicking and really working on my focus! I feel the work we did helped me a lot and I am looking forward to putting it to use this season."
Nebraska Danger: Craig Wissler
New Mexico Stars: Zeke Arevalo
Tri-Cities Fever: Michael Taylor
Wichita Wild: Dylan Pohlman
Wyoming Cavalry: Scott Thomsen

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

IFL United Kickers 2012

The Edge visit the Slaughter this Sunday, as the Indoor Football League's 2012 schedule commences. Both teams are in the United Conference, whose kickers are outlined below.

We spoke to several of them regarding what they've been working on in preparation for the upcoming season.

Bloomington Edge: Peter Christofilakos
"I have been trying to speed up my get off time to be a little quicker. This year I have my holder Dusty Burke from the past that is very good and I feel very confident in, along with a great snapper Jeff Sobel. In the IFL league and with our team I came to learn that in a season holders and snappers will rotate very often due to different situations. With all of the different personnel it is hard to get a rhythm and timing can be tough. This year I feel very good about our snap hold kick and expect us to have success."
Cedar Rapids Titans: Mike Polaski
"I've been working on multiple Onside Kicks as well as a few other specialty kicks to deal with the low ceiling in our home arena as well as adjusting to a different kind of football. Its composite leather and significantly smaller than an NFL-K or AFL ball."
Chicago Slaughter: Chris Nendick
"I have been working a lot in the medical field. Kicking wise, twice a week I go out and kick with a few guys working mostly on shortening my approach to ultimately have a more consistent finish. A big thing I worked on was getting more elevation on the ball flight."
Green Bay Blizzard: Adrian Trevino
"I've been working a lot on balance, technique, and being a great teammate."
Lehigh Valley Steelhawks: Chris Hazley
Omaha Beef: Paul Stoltz
Reading Express: Erik Rockhold or Eric Perri
Sioux Falls Storm: Parker Douglass

Monday, February 13, 2012

Kicking Stats & Technology

We live in a  world of technology. We live in a world of statistics. We live in a world of techno-stats. With that in mind, we take a look at two recent developments along those lines, with a kicking-punting focus, from two periodic contributors.


"My name is Brent Grablachoff and I’m a professional football kicking coach. I originally designed the Kick Tracker App for my students to help them track, analyze and learn from their kicking stats to help improve their field goal kicking, kickoffs and punting skills. After a beta test we found the Kick Tracker App to be not only fun to use, but also extremely effective at helping to improve their overall kicking game. We then decided to release this wonderful app to everyone through the Android Market and iPhone App Store. Kick Tracker is the first of its kind and the best football kicking app for the iPhone and Android!"


"The National Camp Series' KIX (Kicking IndeX) Player Ratings are objectively based upon the data that we have collected for several years. Having been able to capture the statistics from our results for specialists in the kicking game, we rate our athletes in each of the following: Field Goals, Kick Offs, Punts, and/or Long Snaps. We have collected this data and separated them based on grade level. At the same time, the final NCS KIX Player Ratings are compared to our College division (rising high school seniors, junior college and college transfers.) The reason that we do this is so that student-athletes have a goal to reach to demonstrate to colleges that they have the ability to kick at the next level....

Why are we using an objective approach? As a society, we now have the ability to efficiently gather statistics, analyze them and make informed decisions. Everything in the kicking game is based around numbers:
  • NCS Field Goal Points/Field Goal Percentage
  • Hang time on Punts and Kick Offs
  • Distance on Punts and Kick Offs
  • Hand 2 foot, get off time for Punts
  • Punt snap time
  • Ideal distance for perfect laces on Field Goals

You can effectively determine a prospect's ability by consistently gathering statistics over time. Therefore, we believe that the more stats that can be recorded, the better the ability for colleges to accurately assess your ability. This puts you into full control and takes out all subjectivity. Potential is important, but the NCS, as a network of NFL and D1 College players, understands that potential only gets you so far. Collectively, we have seen so many guys with strong legs kick well when no one is around, only to fall apart when there is a little pressure applied. Numbers don't lie! Therefore, our NCS KIX Player Ratings is based upon your results from our evaluations. Our evaluations are created from NFL workouts...."

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Recruiting Process per the Recruitees, part 7

Patience. Business. Those are just two of themes that emerged in our conversations about recruiting with kickers and punters from the class of 2012.

We specifically asked them the following two questions:
  1. What would you say was the most beneficial advice you received before going through the recruiting process?
  2. Is there one thing you learned during the recruiting process that you wish you had known beforehand?
Following is the third and final set of answers. For the others answers check here and here.

George Bullock, Tennessee
  1. Stay in touch. Make sure that coaches know you are interested and don't be afraid of calling them. The better they know you the better chance you have of landing a spot on their team.
  2. Go to a lot of camps - both national ranking camps and specific camps for schools. They will take interest in a kicker if that kicker is ranked highly. After that initial interest from schools it is important to go to camps because most places won’t offer someone that has not competed at their own camp.
Sam Retzky, Tulsa
  1. Be patient. Send out your highlight tape out to schools after your senior year. Most offers will come after your senior season.
  2. Keep an open mind. You do not get a feeling about the school until you meet with the players and coaches in person.
Marshall Morgan, Georgia
  1. Don’t put away a school right off the bat. Always make your visits! For instance, with Georgia I never thought I’d end up there. Then once I visited it blew the other schools away!
Ryan Domangue
  1. Work hard and never quit at anything you do. Be patient and it'll all fall in place. Also another thing is to make sure I do well in school. Grades and God come first in my life.
  2. Going to showcases for kicking is very helpful. Kohl’s kicking has helped me tremendously in the recruiting process. Not only do they find you a home, they keep in touch and care about your future.
Anthony Melchiori, Kent State
  1. Never turn any team away. Listen to everything coaches have to say, and keep all your options open with any school because you never know what could happen.
  2. The recruiting process is a business. What they tell you isn't always accurate or straight forward.
Bobby Puyol, Connecticut
  1. "Go where you're celebrated, not tolerated."
  2. The coaches want to talk to the players not the parents. Early in the process my dad talked to some schools for me but then after two schools I was interested in offered someone instead of me, I decided it was time to talk to the coaches myself, not have them talk to my parents. After that my recruiting process started to get better and better and after a big camp I had at Chris Sailer's "Top 12" Camp. I was offered a Full Scholarship to the University of Connecticut and three weeks of talking to the Special Teams Coach & Head Coach at UConn really paid off.
Austin Hardin, Florida
  1. If you had a career ending injury your first year would you still love the college? Without the coaches and football is it a place you love and want a degree from?
  2. Recruiting isn't always happy go lucky. It's a business and it gets rough. Coaches will tell you one thing and do another.
Cole Leininger, California
  1. Always keep your eyes open and try to get and know every program that you have the opportunity to get to know.
  2. There is going to be tough times in the process but always keep looking.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The 2012 "Off"-Season

With the Super Bowl just around the corner, it may seem like another football season will soon be over, but there will still be plenty of football and consequently kicking in the so-called off-season. Note: events, names and dates will continue to be updated on the following lists as further information becomes available.

NCAA College football
Casino Del Sol College All-Star Game: January 16th
- East squad: kicker Drew Zamora (Northern Arizona), punter William Kelton (Texas State) and long snapper James Winchester (Oklahoma)
-West squad: kicker Kevin Goessling (Fresno State), punter Anson Kelton (TCU) and long snapper Cameron Kastl (Arizona State)
East-West Shrine Game: January 21st
- East squad: kicker Blair Walsh (Georgia) and punter Shawn Powell (Florida State)
- West squad: kicker Greg Zuerlein (Missouri Western) and punters Matt Prewitt (Kentucky Christian) and Bryan Anger (California)
The Battle of Florida: January 21st
- North squad: kicker Nick Cattoi (Central Florida), punter David Bohner (Central Florida) and long snapper Charley Hughlett (Central Florida)
- South squad: kicker Alan Gendreau (Middle Tennessee), punter Mickey Groody (Florida Atlantic) and long snapper Chris Ivory (Miami)
- Kickers Trevor Scott (Florida A&M) and Erik Folk (Washington)
- Punters Marquette King (Fort Valley State) and Ken Wood (Texas A&M)
- Long snappers Jon Rohrbaugh (Penn State) and Matt Camilli (Texas El Paso)
- Kickers Randy Bullock (Texas A&M) and Carson Wiggs (Purdue)
- Punters Drew Butler (Georgia) and Brad Nortman (Wisconsin)
- Long snappers Josh Harris (Auburn) and Kyle Wojta (Wisconsin)
Players All-Star Classic: February 4th
- North squad: kicrer David Teggart (Connecticut) and punter Kyle Martens (Rice)
- South squad: kicker Long Ding (Norwich University), punter Ryan Tydlacka (Kentucky) and long snapper Sean McGrath (Henderson State)
National Signing Day: February 1st
Pro Days Workouts: primarily in March
- Beginning March 1st with Missouri
- Thru April 18th with Lane College

National Football League (NFL)
NFL Scouting Combine: February 22nd - 28th
- kickers: Randy Bullock (Texas A&M), Derek Dimke (Illinois), Dave Teggart (Connecticut), Blair Walsh (Georgia), Carson Wiggs (Purdue)
- punters: Bryan Anger (California), Drew Butler (Georgia), Kyle Martens (Rice), Brad Nortman (Wisconsin), Shawn Powell (Florida State), Brian Stahovich (San Diego State)
- snappers: Josh Harris (Auburn)
Free agent signing period begins March 13th
- UFA kickers: John Kasay, Phil Dawson, Jay Feely, Neil Rackers, Mike Nugent, Josh Scobee, Dave Rayner, Matt Prater, Nick Folk, Connor Barth
- UFA punters: Matt Turk, Ben Graham, Brad Maynard, Nick Harris, Dave Zastudil, Mat McBriar, Donnie Jones, Steve Weatherford, Daniel Zepulveda
- UFA snappers: David Binn, Joe Zelenka, Mike Leach, Ken Amato, Chris Massey, Don Muhlbach, Matt Katula
Aguiar/Husted Pro Camp/Combine: March 31st - April 5th
NFL Draft: April 26th - 28th
Minicamps and OTAs: primarily May & June

Canadian Football League (CFL)
CFL Evaluation Camp, March 2nd - 4th
- top kicking prospect:Austin Anderson (McGill)
CFL Draft: May 3rd
 
Indoor Football Leagues
Indoor Football League (IFL): season kicks off on February 19th
Ultimate Indoor Football League (UIFL): season kicks off on February 25th 
Arena Football League (AFL): season kicks off on March 9th
Continental Indoor Football League (CIFL): season kicks off on March 10th
Professional Indoor Football League (PIFL): season kicks off on March 10th
American Indoor Football (AIF): season kicks off on March 17th
Lone Star Football League (LSFL): season kicks off on March 31st

American Football - global 
European Federation of American Football: 2012 schedule to be announced.
International Bowl: February 1st 
- Team USA: Colby Cooke and Paul Griggs
- World Team: Dillon Wamsley

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Recruiting Process per the Recruitees, part 6

Our look at the recruiting process continues. We asked kickers and punters from the Class of 2012 the following two questions:
  1. What would you say was the most beneficial advice you received before going through the recruiting process?
  2. Is there one thing you learned during the recruiting process that you wish you had known beforehand?
Following is the second of three batches of answers:

Kenny Allen, Michigan
  1. Don't listen to everyone else around you, because you and your family know what's best for you.
  2. Try harder in school. I did alright with a 3.0, but athletes usually don't focus on academics and I wish I had more because that will help others.
Collin Barber, Georgia
  1. Know your GPA, your SAT/ACT, and all your school information, know schools pros and cons.
  2. Know about applying and all that and how it's different for an athlete.
Nick Jordan, Texas
  1. My kicking coach told me to remember to look out for myself. The college coaches don't care about me, just about me playing for them, so I need to remember to make decisions for my own good.
  2. I wish I had fully known when the coaches can contact me and all of the NCAA rules that go along with that.
Roberto Aguayo, Florida State
  1. Go where your most comfortable and where your heart takes you, be sure your gonna wanna be there the next four years of your life academically and sports wise.
  2. What a grey shirt meant and how it worked.
Brad Dunavant, Toledo
  1. Think about Pros and cons of the campus like what it does for you, what it does for your family, do you get along with the football guys while you’re there, does it make you feel like "home"?
Devon Bell, Mississippi State
  1. Don't go where people think you should go. Go where you feel is best for you.
Garrett Owens, Oregon State
  1. Actually going to look at the school before making the decision and getting to know the coaches well. Making sure it’s the right fit for you and the decision you make is yours and not others.
  2. Be more patient with the recruiting process.
Ryan Frain, Illinois
  1. Do everything in my power to get my name in front of coaches. I was told it is a myth that a coach will one day just show up at one of my games, stop me and ask me if I had any plans on college, visits are taken, and I get a scholarship to my dream college! That doesn't happen. I have never heard of someone receiving a scholarship just like that - no matter how good they are. I built every connection I could possibly find, I spent hours on the computer last winter and spring emailing coaches (I would find their emails on the schools website). I would update them when I had a big performance at a competition, send them all highlight tapes and statistics as I came across them or made the films. I built such good relationships with so many coaches that I can humbly say I was heavily recruited, and didn't spend thousands of dollars going to camps or showcases all over the country. Then by the time summer came around, I was peaking, better than I had ever been. I went to the schools that I had been in contact with and blew some coaches away, started my senior season on a great note. Sent my first three game films to coaches, and Illinois came through with a scholarship. Mainly because of a smaller connection I had with a coach named Tim Williams, you just never know what's going to fall through. That is why that was the best advice I had ever received.
  2. Enjoy every second of it. It truly is an exciting process that not a lot of athletes experience. Yes, I was busting my ass to get the looks I got. But looking back, it was awesome to hear back from a school like Texas or get calls from some of my favorite colleges. I wish I had realized how great it was at the time, other than that I had all the knowledge I know now. But I took it so much as a marketing and business (which it is) experience that I didn't realize how much fun it actually is.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Super Bowl XLVI Kicking Postscript

New England faced a long field more than once in Super Bowl XLVI. 
New York punter Steve Weatherford placed three of his four punts inside the ten yard line during the Giants 21-17 win over the Patriots.
"Inside-the-20 punts are something I pride myself on. I try to create as much field position as I can, especially with the incredible defense and defensive line we have. If you can put it inside the five, it makes it very difficult for the other team to drive on us....
Sometimes it bounces forward, sometimes it goes backwards. Fortunately for my first punt in a Super Bowl, it went backwards."
Weatherford had fun doing it.
"In my game, it's all confidence. The more fun I have, the more confidence I have. It's just a game. Granted, there's only a billion people watching, but it's a game. I went out there and had fun and was able to execute."
Toward the end of the game it looked like Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes would be trying a game winning field goal attempt. At least that was the plan. Trailing 15-17 with just over a minute to play, New York had first and goal to go from the seven. They planned to run the clock down and let Tynes kick the winner on the final play. However, on second down New England intentionally gave up a touchdown so they could get one more chance on offense.
"I'm just sticking to my routine and you know what, it was at the end of the game, I was approaching it just like I was the two kicks in the third quarter....
I thought Ahmad [Bradshaw] was gonna take the knee. That would have been pretty sweet if he kneed it. It was like he wanted to [knee it] and then he just fell forward....
I'll be honest with you, that was the right play because you give Tom Brady the ball ... all they need was a field goal if we kicked a field goal, so I think you score right there a touchdown."
While the Super Bowl win was a first for Weatherford, it was a second one for both Tynes and their fellow specialist, long snapper Zak DeOssie.
"It's pretty crazy. When that ball hit the ground it was beyond words. Two-time Super Bowl champ. I don't think it's quite sunk in yet....
Four years later, you have an idea what it takes to get here and how rare it is. My rookie year was unbelievable, but if you can believe it this was even better. My rookie year my head was spinning and you're thinking, 'Is this normal?' Now I really understand what (then-punter) Jeff Feagles was telling me. All the veterans were saying, 'Don't get used to this.' This is so rare, and such a great opportunity to even be here to play in this game. And to win it, now that I am older, I really understand what it means."

Friday, February 3, 2012

SB XLVI MVP Sneak Preview

Who will be the MVP of this year's Super Bowl: Steve Weatherford, Lawrence Tynes, Zoltan Mesko or Stephen Gostkowski? We asked kickers, punters, snappers, and coaches that very question.

"I believe it will be Stephen Gostkowski. I played against Stephen when he was at Memphis. He is an excellent kicker and I believe he will come through in the clutch. Coming back from knee surgery last year was very impressive. He did a great job in replacing Adam Vinatieri. Also I believe the patriots will win the game and have plenty of scoring opportunities."

"I broke my crystal ball and it is not yet working, but my guess is that it will not be a punter although both are indeed great punters! Punters never get the recognition they deserve, and MVP is certainly not in the cards for either of them. That leaves Tynes and Gostkowski. Though both had very good seasons, however, the guy that should get the most props is Gostkowski. His role as replacing the legendary Adam Vinatieri was the most difficult of all. He had to perform in Vinatieri's shadow, and he has done so masterfully! No telling what is going to happen on Super Bowl Sunday, but if past performance is the gauge of MVP my vote is for the Gos."

"Stephen Gostkowski will win it with a Field Goal to carry on the tradition of Patriot kickers winning it in the big games."

"Tynes."

"I think that Weatherford is going to be the difference maker on special teams. He punted as good of a game that a punter could have in the NFC championship. I don't see him doing anything else on the big day."

Carlos Ojeda, kicker, Special Teams Coordinator at Miami-Northwestern Senior High
"Eli Manning."
[Editor's note: after we tried to give Carlos a hard time for selecting a QB rather than a kicker or punter, he gave us the following supplemental response...]
"I would love to see a kicker named the MVP but in this particular game I have to be completely unbiased and use my football knowledge in picking an MVP candidate. I truly feel Eli will be named MVP as much as I regret to admit."

"I believe that there should be a "Kicking MVP" trophy for the Super Bowl. My vote is Stephen Gostkowski. He is an excellent kicker, but untested in big pressure situations. However, I feel that given the opportunity, he will come through in the clutch. This should be another excellent game to watch, that could come down to a late field goal to tie or win the game.

If we can't have a kicking MVP then I vote for Co-MVPs by all four:
  • Steve Weatherford: Most "ripped and tatooed" punter to play in the Super Bowl
  • Lawrence Tynes: Wylie veteran who has been there and he gets the job done
  • Zoltan Mesko: Being that this game is watch all over the world, Zoltan knows several languages, so he can communicate effectively on and off of the field
  • Gostkowski: See previous comment up above"

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Newest Collegiate Kickers 2012

Yesterday was a busy day for high school seniors and colleges, as the football recruiting process culminated in the annual National Signing Day. Following is a summary of the incoming freshman class of kickers, plus a few junior college transfers. If you notice any omissions, post a comment or shoot me an e-mail.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

RBS 6 Nations: 6 Kickers - 2012


Note: this is the 2012 edition. For the 2013 edition click here.  
 

American football reaches it's annual pinnacle this weekend with the spectacle known as the Super Bowl. One of the games ancestors, rugby, is also in the spotlight this weekend as the Six Nations Championship kicks off. Like football, rugby diminished but did not eliminate the element of kicking. The feet of the following eleven players could play a significant role in this year's tournament.

"The sight of Francois Trinh-Duc alongside Dimitri Yachvili at half-back will please many France fans. The 25-year-old came off the bench in the final in New Zealand after [old coach] Lievremont chose to play Parra, usually a scrum-half, ahead of him. 'Dimitri Yachvili and Francois Trinh-Duc finished the World Cup final and we thought it was good to start with this partnership,' said [new coach] Philippe Saint-Andre. The coach insists his side will not be underestimating Italy, who last year beat Les Bleus at Stadio Flaminio for the first time."
"Hook has flourished at fly-half in the French league and could now be in line to wear the No. 10 shirt for Wales with Rhys Priestland struggling with a nagging knee injury.
The 26-year-old lost out to his Scarlets rival in the World Cup, although he did take over in the latter stages when Priestland was again struck down by injury. And with a fresh start in France and a point to prove to his critics, Hook is confident the Six Nations could be a special one for both him and Wales. 'I was really disappointed with myself at the World Cup,' he said. 'Personally it didn't go well at all. It was frustrating to have worked so hard to get to a level of performance only to lose it just when it really mattered'."
"Wilkinson’s absence should pave the way for Toby Flood to finally get a firm hold on the number 10 jersey. With 46 caps he is the most experienced party member left, yet he too is struggling to be fit in time for 4 February after a minor knick to his knee ligaments. If it is to be Flood, then we have seen before he can be flaky under pressure. That goes doubly for Charlie Hodgson who (given his experience) could be handed the reigns this weekend. So we might just see the kicking tee being passed around the back-line until somebody finds a decent rhythm."
"[Coach Jacques] Brunel is unlikely to make drastic changes to the squad he has inherited from Mallett. The Italians will need experience in a tournament that will see them visit Brunel's home nation France first before hosting England in Rome. "We'll continue now with the backbone of players from the World Cup, and then rest them and bring in the youngsters in June," Brunel said. With winger Mirco Bergamasco, who kicked 17 of Italy's 22 points to beat France, sidelined for the first two games with a shoulder injury, Kristopher Burton will have to fill in as a replacement."
"Despite being Ireland’s highest point scorer and having amassed 116 international caps in an illustrious career, O’Gara admits he doesn’t know whether he will pip Jonathan Sexton to the No.10 slot. He added: 'I honestly don’t know whether I’ll be picked, I haven’t known for the last two years whether I’ll be picked. There are two good number tens there.If I have value to start the game, or come on in the game, that is hugely important to me. I just want to ensure that we put ourselves in the best possible position to win a Grand Slam'."
Dan Parks, Scotland
"Three years after telling Dan Parks that his Test career as Scotland fly‑half was as good as over, Andy Robinson on Tuesday put the 33-year-old, now playing for Cardiff Blues, effectively in control of the Calcutta Cup gameplan against England on Saturday. Parks, with 66 Tests behind him, has always divided opinion but for the autumn international series of 2009 he was left out of the Scotland squad and since then has made sporadic starts for his adopted country, being distinctly second choice behind Ruaridh Jackson during the World Cup. However, with Jackson still nursing the hamstring he damaged in New Zealand, Parks has moved into pole position again, even getting a hug from Robinson, after the head coach had announced a team who start the Six Nations shaped as much by retirements and injuries as any desire for a fresh start after their worst World Cup performance."