the study of the kicking components within sports

Friday, March 29, 2013

Draft Preview: Josh Hubner

Among the punters eligible for this year's NFL draft, or signing as an undrafted free agent thereafter, is Arizona State's Josh Hubner. He ranks in the top ten in the majority of the various draft rankings.

Excerpts from Hubner's profile page on the Sun Devils' website:

2012 Senior Season
  • Set the school record for yards per punt at 47.1, which led the Pac-12 and was second in the nation
  • named to numerous All-America teams, including Lindy's (third team) and Sports Illustrated (honorable mention)
  • named a Ray Guy Award semifinalist
  • earned Pac-12 All-Second Team accolades
  • pinned 20 punts inside the 20
  • participated in East-West Shrine Game and Casino Del Sol All-Star Game
  • named the Babe Alex Demon Special Teams MVP
2011 Junior Season
  • Sent seven punts over 50 yards and had 29 of his 62 punts called for a fair catch
  • Had 24 of his 62 punts go inside the 20-yard line
Scottsdale Community College
  • Was the top-ranked junior college punter in the nation according to and one of only four punter prospects across the country at any level to earn a three-star rating
  • averaged 40.2 yards on 41 punts as a sophomore in 2010
  • earned Second-Team All-Region One honors
  • was named Second-Team All-America and First-Team All-Arizona Community College Athletic Conference (ACCAC) after averaging 41.2 yards-per-punt as a freshman in 2009
High School
  • 2009 graduate of Scottsdale (Ariz.) Desert Mountain High School
  • netted All-Arizona honors by the Arizona Republic as a senior...
  • dropped 16 punts inside the 20-yard line in 2008 while averaging 39.4 yards on 46 punts...caught 12 passes for 177 yards (14.8 avg.) as a senior...added 13 tackles and 1.5 sacks
  • earned Second-Team All-Desert Valley honors at punter as a junior in 2007 after averaging 38.2 yards on 17 punts

College Stats:
2012: 52 punts, 47.1 yard average, long of 73 yards
2011: 62 punts, 41.3 yard average, long of 61 yards

We recently checked in with Josh regarding his road heading towards the NFL:
"From day one after the season I began preparing myself for the NFL combine. As a punter that's always something you've got to take seriously because unlike a lot of other positions, that's one of the only major opportunities you'll get. A lot of hard work, a lot of long days, a lot of emotional roller coasters. But it's all great. I love it. It builds character and helps you learn how to overcome obstacles. This isn't an easy road by any means. You know if you think about it, there are only 32 job positions at punter in the entire world, and in order to have one of them you have got to be the best, in fact you've gotta be better than your best, because there is always someone out there who can take your job. That's the nature of the game and the sooner you realize that, the more successful you'll be. My experiences these last few months have been the best ones of my life, and I love living in the moments. And to think about what is next. Mind blowing."

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Draft Preview: Dan Conroy

Among the kickers eligible for this year's NFL draft, or signing as an undrafted free agent thereafter, is Michigan State's Dan Conroy. He ranks in the top ten in the majority of the various draft rankings.

Excerpts from Conroy's profile page on the Spartans' website:

2012 Senior Season
  • Made the game-winning kick in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl as his 47-yard field goal with just 1:01 remaining in the game put MSU ahead for good over TCU, 17-16
  • Set an MSU single-season record with 23 field goals
  • recipient of the team's Downtown Coaches Club Award for the most outstanding senior on special teams
2011 Junior Season
  • made two field goals, both in overtime, in the triple OT win over No. 18 Georgia in the Outback Bowl . . . connected on a 35-yard attempt in the second overtime to push the game into a third extra session, and made the eventual game-winning field goal, a 28-yarder, in the third overtime as MSU defeated the Bulldogs, 33-30
  • Honorable mention All-Big Ten selection by the media
2010 Sophomore Season
  • his 14 consecutive field goals made to open his career marked the best start for a placekicker in MSU history
  • Named one of 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award
  • earned first-team All-Big Ten honors from the coaches and media in his first year as the starting placekicker
  • also named first-team All-Big Ten by and
  • presented the Tommy Love Award as the team's most improved player (shared honor with center John Stipek) . . . 
  • led the Big Ten and ranked fifth in the NCAA FBS in field-goal accuracy (.933)
2009 Freshman Season
  • Saw action in four games in 2009 (vs. Montana State, Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Penn State)
High School
  • Second-team all-state selection as a senior by the Chicago Tribune
  • played for Coach Ron Muhitch at Wheaton (Ill.) Warrenville South High School, helping the Tigers to a combined record of 27-1 over his final two seasons
  • named the Tigers' Special Teams Player of the Year after accounting for 68 points as a senior, hitting 40-of-45 extra-point and 9-of-12 field goal attempts
  • 90 percent of his kickoffs went into or beyond the end zone as a senior
  • averaged 40.3 yards on 35 punts in 2007, including a career-long 53-yarder

2012: 23 of 32 (71.9%) FGs; 25 of 25 PATs; 94 points
2011: 17 of 23 (73.9%) FGs; 48 of 48 PATs; 99 points
2010: 14 of 15 (93.3%) FGs; 45 of 46 PATs; 87 points
2009: 1 of 1 (100%) FGs; 0 of 0 PATs; 3 points

Last November, Dan discussed his college career:
"I had an opportunity to go to Western Michigan on a scholarship offer, but my heart was always with Michigan State. My dad graduated from here in 1977, so I've been bleeding green and white my whole life. I had my heart set on Michigan State the entire time. Whether I had the opportunity to play football or not, I was going to come to MSU....

It's pretty cool just to see where I've come from. Coming in as a walk-on and having to prove myself when I got here, and then having another scholarship kicker come and having to prove myself again just really helped me build the character I have. The people I've been able to meet have helped me moved forward time after time. That's really been the most touching part of all of this to me, to have made the lifetime relationships with the guys here....

We have a quote up in the specialists room that talks about the fact that it's not how great you are, but how great you are with the talent that you have. I think everybody has different talents. It's not what you have and how you can coast by with that, but how you develop those talents and those skills and apply it to be the best athlete or person you can be."

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Draft Preview: Jackson Rice

Among the punters eligible for this year's NFL draft, or signing as an undrafted free agent thereafter, is Oregon's Jackson Rice. He ranks in the top eleven in the majority of the various draft rankings.

Excerpts from Rice's profile page on the Ducks' website:

2012 Senior Season
  • Named to the watch list for Ray Guy Award
2011 Junior Season
  • One of three finalists for the Ray Guy Award
  • All-Pac-12 second team (Pac-12 coaches, Phil Steele)
  • Placed 17 of his 48 punts inside the 20-yard line
  • Helped the Ducks rank first nationally in net punting at 41.45
  • Passed for and ran for a 2-point PAT
2010 Sophomore Season
  • Placed 18 punts inside the 20-yard line against just three touchbacks
  • Missed the final two regular season games due to illness before returning for the BCS Championship Game vs. Auburn, where he completed an 11-yard pass on a fake punt play for a key first down
2009 Freshman Season
  • Enjoyed one of the most efficient games of his young career, averaging 43.2 yards on four punts vs. Ohio State in the Rose Bowl, allowing only one return yard and placing three balls inside the 20-yard line … Included was a 55-yard boot which landed on the Buckeyes’ 2-yard line
  • Had a stellar collegiate debut, averaging 43.9 yards on seven punts, including a long of 54 yards at Boise State, to earn his first of two team player-of-the-week honors on special teams
High School
  • 2009 U.S. Army All-American …
  • 2008-09 HS Maxwell Award Winner for best punter in 2009 class
  • Rated the No. 1 punter in the nation by, No. 2 punter by and
  • Averaged 47.6 yards per punt in his senior season

2012: 51 punts, 40.0 yard average, long of 56 yards
2011: 48 punts, 45.9 yard average, long of 61 yards
2010: 40 punts, 42.3 yard average, long of 56 yards
2009: 61 punts, 40.5 yard average, long of 60 yards

Last August, prior to his senior season, Rice noted:
"I wasn't born as a punter -- I actually grew up playing linebacker and tight end. All I can do is let my play speak for itself."

Draft Preview: Dylan Breeding

Among the punters eligible for this year's NFL draft, or signing as an undrafted free agent thereafter, is Arkansas's Dylan Breeding. He ranks in the top ten in the majority of the various draft rankings.

Excerpts from Breeding's profile page on the Razorbacks' website:

2012 Senior Season
  • finished his career ranking third on UA's career punt yardage list with 9,387 and punts list with 219, and his career average of 42.9 yards per punt is tied for fourth in school history
  • named Second Team All-Southeastern Conference 
  • ranked second in the SEC and seventh in the NCAA with a career-high average
  • averaged 58.3 yards per punt against Tulsa, punting for 175 yards on three punts, for the highest yards-per-punt average in a game by a Razorback with at least three punts
2011 Junior Season
  • named second-team All-SEC by the Associated Press and the conference’s coaches
  • average was the third-highest single-season average in school history, led the SEC and ranked seventh in the NCAA
  • became the first punter in school history to lead the SEC in punting average and the first to top the conference since Greg Horne led the Southwest Conference in 1986
  • nominated for the Brandon Burlsworth Trophy, which goes to the nation’s most outstanding player who began his career as a walk-on
  • In Arkansas’ 29-16 defeat of No. 11 Kansas State in the AT&T Cotton Bowl, he punted four times for an average of 46.8 with a long of 63 and two inside the 20
2010 Sophomore Season
  • placed 18 punts inside the 20-yard line and had 10 of at least 50 yards
  • nominated for the Brandon Burlsworth Trophy and the Rudy Award, which honors student-athletes who demonstrate exemplary character, courage, contribution and commitment as members of their team on and off the field
  • concluded his season with seven punts for a 43.7 average with four inside the 20, including three downed inside the 10-yard line, in the Allstate Sugar Bowl vs. No. 6 Ohio State
2009 Freshman Season
  • appeared in 12 games for the Razorbacks, missing only the Eastern Michigan contest
  • On the season, he downed 14 punts inside the 20-yard line
  • Against Alabama, Florida and East Carolina, three of Breeding’s punts were inside the 20-yard line.
High School
  • At Hoover High School, he was a member of two state runner-up teams under coach Josh Niblett
  • also lettered in baseball
  • As a senior, he was named all-state after he punted 59 times for 2,447 yards, an average of 41.5 yards per punt, with a long of 59. He dropped 18 punts inside the 20-yard line and had nine result in fair catches
  • also handled kickoff duties for the Buccaneers and recorded 20 touchbacks on 81 kickoffs

College Stats:
2012: 53 punts, 45.6 yard average, long of 72 yards
2011: 53 punts, 45.3 yard average, long of 70 yards
2010: 52 punts, 42.5 yard average, long of 60 yards
2009: 61 punts, 38.7 yard average, long of 54 yards

We checked in with Dylan for a look back and a look forward:
"Looking back at my college career, I realize that I have come a long way. I walked on at Arkansas with a hope of just being able to play, and I wound up being a four year starter. Through hard work, I was able to improve as a punter each season I played which I am proud of. I'm also extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to play in the SEC against the strongest competition and to have experienced the things that I have throughout my career. I'm so glad that God has given me the opportunity to pursue a career as an NFL punter. He has blessed me with the abilities that I have as a punter, and I will continue to strive to be the best punter I can be and hopefully I will have opportunities to play in the future."

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Draft Preview: Bobby Cowan

Among the punters eligible for this year's NFL draft, or signing as an undrafted free agent thereafter, is Idaho's Bobby Cowan. He ranks in the top ten in the majority of the various draft rankings.

Excerpts from Cowan's profile page on the Vandals' website:

2012 Senior Season
  • Idaho career punting average record holder (44.7) as well as total punts (259) and punting yards (11,570)
  • completed lone career pass for 64 yards
2011 Junior Season
  • Ray Guy Award semi-finalist
  • Second-team all Western Athletic Conference
  • Blue Ribbon WAC all-conference punter
  • Idaho College Athlete of the Year 
  • Became just the second Football Writers Association of America All-American
  • second in the nation in punting average with 46.41 per kick
  • 36.3 percent (32 of 88) of his punts were 50 yards or longer
2010 Sophomore Season
  • first-team all Western Athletic Conference
  • Idaho Special Teams Player of the Year
  • Led the Western Athletic Conference and ranked 13th nationally
2009 Freshman Season
  • Stepped in and admirably filled the shoes of departed All-American T.J. Conley
  • WAC Player of the Week after averaging 49.2 yards per kick at New Mexico State
High School
  • 2008 graduate of Evergreen High School
  • all-state punter for three seasons and all-state quarterback as a sophomore and senior
  • had 2,000 yards passing and 20 touchdowns

2012: 70 punts, 43.1 yard average, long of 61 yards
2011: 88 punts, 46.4 yard average, long of 76 yards
2010: 58 punts, 45.1 yard average, long of 65 yards
2009: 43 punts, 43.0 yard average, long of 67 yards

Bobby updated us on his recent training and his experience at the Scouting Combine:
"Since the season ended I have been training non stop. Lifting weights and punting A LOT. I trained in Arizona with kicking coach Gary Zauner for about a month and a half leading up to the combine. I worked out at Zone Athletic Performance in Scottsdale. Coach Zauner really helped me hone my punting technique and Adam Mathis, my trainer at the Zone, helped me lose body fat and get toned. After training hard in AZ it was time for the combine. The combine was just a flat out great experience. Meeting every special teams coach from every team was very intriguing. Plus the bonus of finding out that you're healthy after a wide variety of medical tests. Then it's time to do what you came there for, punt the football. It was great to finally go out there and hit some footballs. The snaps were on point and it was fun to get out there with all those great punters and swing away. You definitely feel the pressure, but the lights are on and so you rise to the occasion and will yourself to perform. Overall, the combine was an awesome experience, a once in a lifetime opportunity!"

Draft Preview: Scott Kovanda

Among the punters eligible for this year's NFL draft, or signing as an undrafted free agent thereafter, is Ball State's Scott Kovanda. He ranks in the top ten in the majority of the various draft rankings.

Excerpts from Kovanda's profile page on the Cardinals' website:

2012 Senior Season
  • One of 3 Finalists for the 2012 Ray Guy Award
  • Competed in the NFLPA All-Star Game
  • 2010, 2011, 2012 Academic All-MAC First Team
  • 41.0 career average ranks third on Ball State's all-time charts
  • helped Ball State rank third in the nation in punt return defense
2011 Junior Season
  • Punted a career high 10 times for a career best 424 yards at Oklahoma
  • career-long 72-yard punt at Northern Illinois
2010 Sophomore Season
  • Played in all 12 games . . . earned second letter
  • punted a season high nine times for a season best 343 yards at Iowa. 
2009 Freshman Season
  • Played in all 12 games to earn first letter
  • ranked fourth in the Mid-American Conference in punting average
  • punted a season high seven times in his collegiate debut vs. North Texas in the season opener and in the season finale at Western Michigan
High School
  • tallied 82 punts for a 41.5 average in career
  • named team’s Specialist of the Year as a senior

2012: 47 punts, 40.3 yard average, long of 56 yards
2011: 61 punts, 43.5 yard average, long of 72 yards
2010: 64 punts, 40.0 yard average, long of 63 yards
2009: 57 punts, 40.0 yard average, long of 63 yards

Scott discussed his punting approach from a career perspective with us:
"Ever since I started punting I never looked too far ahead in my career. I always focused on where I was and getting better in that moment. I never failed to have long term goals set for myself to keep me focused on where I wanted punting to eventually take me. But more importantly I focused on short term goals because they are what got me better as a punter. Goals such as being more consistent and and turning more footballs over have helped me become a better punter and in turn make my long term goals a reality. As I prepare for the NFL I am working on the same short term goals I had when I got to college. These goals are helping me become a more consistent punter and will allow me to compete at the highest level."

Monday, March 25, 2013

Draft Preview: Anthony Cantele

Among the kickers eligible for this year's NFL draft, or signing as an undrafted free agent thereafter, is Kansas State's Anthony Cantele. He ranks in the top ten in the majority of the various draft rankings.

Excerpts from Cantele's profile page on the Wildcats' website:

2012 Senior Season
  • Kansas State Pro Day: did not miss any of his field goal attempts, including a 58-yarder
  • Second Team All-Big 12 Conference
2011 Junior Season
  • Honorable Mention All-Big 12 accolades from the Associated Press... 
  • Hit a 31-yard game-winning field goal against No. 15 Baylor, which propelled him to Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week honors
  • Also earned the award after making a pair of game-tying field goals against Texas A&M and hitting field goals from 19, 37 and 47 against Iowa State
  • Connected on a 54-yarder against Oklahoma, the eighth-longest in school history and tied for the longest in the Big 12 during 2011
2010 Sophomore Season
  • Began the year as K-State's regular kicker, hitting a 35-yard field goal and booting four touchbacks against UCLA, earning Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week honors
  • Took a fake field goal in for a touchdown against Missouri State
2009 Freshman Season
  • Redshirted
  • A former soccer player at Missouri State who transferred to K-State prior to the 2009 season
High School
  • A four-year letterwinner for Kapun Mt. Carmel
  • 20-of-23 career field goals, including a long of 50 yards... Connected on 145-of-147 PATs
  • Named all-city four times, all-state three times and all-metro twice
  • Selected to the 2008 Kansas Shrine Bowl
  • Also lettered four years in soccer, leading his team to a state runner-up finish on two occasions

2012: 19 of 23 (82.6%) FGs; 64 of 64 PATs; 121 points
2011: 17 of 23 (73.9%) FGs; y of y PATs; 99 points
2010: 1 of 2 (50.0%) FGs; 6 of 7 PATs; 9 points

Anthony provided us the following thoughts on his college career and his potential pro career:
"Four years ago, if anyone would've told me that I would have the opportunity to play professional football, I would have laughed at them. I spent my first year in college playing soccer at Missouri State University but quickly lost my passion for it. At that point I decided to give football a shot and Kansas State was the only school to give me an opportunity. Even then I had my doubts that I would ever see the field. Things started to work out for me however, and I developed much more than I ever thought I would. I now have the opportunity to possibly play in the NFL, which is a dream come true just to be considered a prospect. I know that making it at the next level is very hard to do and I am looking forward to the challenge, but if things do not work out I am still extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity at K-state and to meet some amazing people along the way."

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Draft Preview: Brett Maher

Among the kickers eligible for this year's NFL draft, or signing as an undrafted free agent thereafter, is Nebraska's Brett Maher. He ranks in the top five in the majority of the various draft rankings.

Excerpts from Maher's profile page on the Cornhuskers' website:

2012 Senior Season
  • Second-Team All-Big Ten Place-Kicker (Coaches)
  • Second-Team All-Big Ten Punter (Coaches)
  • UCLA: Connected on a career-long 54-yard field goal at the end of the first half, bettering his 51 yarder at Michigan in 2011... was the longest field goal ever for Nebraska away from Memorial Stadium
  • Northwestern: Downed five of his nine punts inside the Northwestern 20, including four punts inside the Wildcat 7-yard line... had two punts of 50 yards or more, including a 58-yarder in the third quarter
  • Georgia (Capital One Bowl): Connected on a 39-yard field goal and made all four PATs... increased season scoring total to 119 points, the most ever by an NU kicker
2011 Junior Season 
  • First-Team All-Big Ten Punter (Coaches, Media,, Phil Steele)
  • First-Team All-Big Ten Kicker (Coaches, Media, ESPN,, Phil Steele 
  • Lou Groza Award Semifinalist (1 of 20) 
  • had field goals of 50 and 48 yards against Chattanooga as part of his 4-of-4 effort, and also averaged 52.0 yards per punt. The performance earned him Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week.
  • Against Fresno State, Maher became the first Husker punter since 2005 to average 50-plus yards per punt in consecutive games, averaging 50.8 yards per punt on five kicks.
2010 Sophomore Season
  • Maher played in 13 games as the holder
2009 Freshman Season
  • Maher played in all 14 games as the Huskers' holder for PATs and field goal attempts
  • also served as the backup punter to starter Alex Henery
High School
  • senior year at Kearney High School: 41-for-46 kicking extra points and 8-for-14 on field goals, while averaging 41.2 yards per punt. 
  • played wide receiver where he had 775 receiving yards and 10 touchdown receptions. 
  • earned first-team all-state honors from both the Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal Star, while playing for the North Squad in the 2008 Shrine Bowl

College Stats:
2012: 20 of 27 (74.1%) FGs; 59 of 59 PATs; 119 points
2011: 19 of 23 (82.6%) FGs; 43 of 44 PATs; 100 points

From Nebraska's Pro Day earlier this month:
"He made all 10 of the 10 field goals he attempted for scouts on Thursday. This comes after he made 14 of 15 kicks at the NFL combine. The Kearney native kicked for about a half hour for scouts. 'I'm kicking really well right now,' Maher said. 'I kicked well today, kicked well at the combine. Kicked off really well today. Put a couple back on the endline. Just feel good about how the ball is coming off my foot'."

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Draft Preview: Brett Baer

Among the kickers eligible for this year's NFL draft, or signing as an undrafted free agent thereafter, is Louisiana-Lafayette's Brett Baer. He ranks in the top ten in the majority of the various draft rankings.

Excerpts from Baer's profile page on the Ragin' Cajuns' website:

2012 Senior Season
  • became most accurate  kicker in NCAA history, with career field goal percentage of 90%
  • selected First Team All-Sun Belt Conference
  • ranks third in ULL history with 243 career points
  • made field goals of 50, 25 & 40 yards in 43-34 win over East Carolina in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
2011 Junior Season
  • Semi-finalist for the Lou Groza Award, 
  • earned second team All-Sun Belt honors as both a kicker and punter and second team All-Louisiana by the LSWA
  • tabbed the team’s special teams MVP
  • led the nation in field goal accuracy (10 or more attempts) at .900
  • was four-for-four on onside kick attempts 
  • connected on a career-long 50-yard field goal as time expired to give UL a 32-30 win over San Diego State in the New Orleans Bowl
  • broke a 34-34 tie against Florida Atlantic (10/1) by making a 37-yard field goal with no time left to give the Ragin’ Cajuns the win
2010 Sophomore Season
  • Began season as backup kicker, then assumed starting role in fifth game
  • season-long effort of 42 yards came vs. Troy in his first career attempt. . . 
  • was the primary kickoff specialist for the second straight season
  • made six tackles, including two vs. ASU
2009 Freshman Season
  • Primary kickoff specialist all 12 games
High School
  • Was a two-time all-county selection
  • averaged 44.5 yards per punt.

College Stats:
2012: 20 of 23 (87.0%) FGs; 53 of 56 PATs; 113 points
2011: 18 of 20 (90.0%) FGs; 46 of 50 PATs; 100 points
2010: 7 of 7 (100%) FGs; 23 of 23 PATs; 44 points

From last October. midway through his senior season:
“I played a little [soccer] in middle school, but I started kicking sophomore year. I ended up being pretty decent at it.... 

I want to finish this season out and be successful. When I look back on my college career, I want to know I helped my team win all those years. I want to make new recruits say, ‘Man, that guy was freakin’ awesome'."

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

AFL Kickers 2013 - National Conference

Last week we checked in on the American Conference half of the kickers in this year's Arena Football League. That leave's us with the seven kickers in the national Conference:

Arizona Rattlers - Garrett Lindholm (Tarleton State)
"Lindholm was considering going to the Rattlers’ camp in 2011, before signing with Milwaukee. He ended up making a league-best 20 field goals. He said a few times there were bad snaps, and he had attempt a couple of drop kicks for field goals that missed. “Our offense struggled in the beginning of the year, so I had a lot of field-goal opportunities, which isn’t good in the Arena league,” said Lindholm, who will be kicking in an Arena game Saturday for the first time since 2011."
Chicago Rush - Jose Martinez (UTEP)
"2012: As a member of the Milwaukee Mustangs he made six of his 12 field goal attempts. He completed 56 of the 64 extra points that he attempted. He also recorded three tackles on defense."
Iowa Barnstormers - Phil Marfuggi (Clemson)
"Marfuggi is the new Iowa kicker after Chris Gould took a coaching job recently.  Marfuggi has spent time between Iowa, New Orleans, and Philadelphia the last few seasons."
San Antonio Talons - Stefan Demos (Northwestern) 
"Just excited to get the season started again. My goal is just to get better every day and every week. It is a long season so taking care of my body and monitoring reps is a crucial aspect that I learned last year. I had to miss the scrimmage with an injury so I am just excited to get that adrenaline of a game again and help the Talons get a championship back to San Antonio."
San Jose Sabercats -  Nich Pertuit
"The SaberCats were assigned kicker Nich Pertuit on a two-year contract. Pertuit appeared in 13 games last season for the SaberCats, connecting on 103-of-114 of his extra point attempts (90%) and finished 1-of-2 on field goal attempts. His knack for hitting the bar with his kickoffs as well as his propensity for quality onside kicks (had five recovered) also created numerous opportunities for the SaberCats in 2012."
Spokane Shock - Kenny Spencer (North Alabama)
"My main focus this year is to top what I achieved last year. Always striving to do better and accomplish more goals. There is always room for improvement and to make your self better."
Utah Blaze - Adrian Trevino (Missouri Valley)
"I do a lot of things to prepare my self. First I set team and individual goals. Then I mentally prepare myself. I make sure I stay in shape by stretching and conditioning. Then I make sure I'm a good teammate. All this helps me be ready for games."

Friday, March 15, 2013

AFL Kickers 2013 - American Conference

Another season of Arena football kicks off next weekend. As always, we check in on the ever important kicking game. This year the American Conference includes seven teams, and hence seven kickers:

Cleveland Gladiators - Ross Gornall (Florida Atlantic) 
"My main focus this season is staying consistent and keeping my head in the right place. I feel blessed to have moved up to this level and I want to take full advantage of the opportunity. To any football player out there, kicker or not, never leave any doubt in your mind that you didn't give your all. Gladiators are looking very sound in camp, here we come watch out!"
Jacksonville Sharks -  Marco Capozzoli (Montclair State)
"Capozzoli enters his third season with the Sharks and fourth AFL season overall. Last time he appeared on Sea Best Field, Capozzoli delivered the most memorable kick in franchise history, drilling a 51-yarder as time expired to propel Jacksonville to a 58-56 win over the Georgia Force in the first round of the 2012 playoffs."
New Orleans VooDoo - Gary Cismesia (Florida State)
"Cismesia, who settled a shaky kicking situation midway through 2012, returns to handle kicking duties in 2013."
Orlando Predators - Mark Lewis (Florida International) PUP
"Lewis, a Central Florida native and Lyman High School alum, has established himself as one of the premier kickers in the AFL. He was named the Arena Football League’s Kicker of the Year in 2007, and is entering his third season with the Preds and ninth overall in the AFL."
Philadelphia Soul - Carlos Martinez (Buena Vista) 
"I'm excited about my new team and organization. My professional career started in Philly with the Eagles in 2003. Great fans, great organization, great coaches, and great team and with my family support I am truly blessed."
Pittsburgh Power - Joshua Smith (St. Andrews)
"This year my main focus is just to stay healthy. I'm excited to be a part of the Power organization and I'm looking forward to a productive 2013 season!"
Tampa Bay Storm - Juan Bongarra (Albany State)
"The Storm worked on aim and placement of the ball on kickoff. In order to improve scoring, and take advantage of the live ball off the net, the kicker needs to aim for the crossbar. If the ball takes an odd bounce, the kicking team has an opportunity to grab the ball and run it in for a touchdown. Storm kicker Juan Bongarra spent the offseason working on this part of his game. 'I came out here a lot during the offseason to work on this,' said Bongarra. 'You have to keep practicing in order to get better'."

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Dirt on Kicking on Baseball Dirt

Prior to a road trip to Oakland the other September, the New York Jets specialists held a practice at a baseball field in Newark rather than their usual practice location. Why? To practice kicking off of the infield dirt, in case they ended up having to do so when playing in the Coliseum. At the time, kicker Nick Folk commented:
“It’s hard as a rock. You want to be wearing something that will stay on top, grab the looser stuff. Baseball fields are pretty hard, it’s not like kicking on a beach where you sink in. You just need to trust what you’re doing....
You’re not going to change too much, but it’s going to change a little bit. How I plant, that’s what is going to change, but how I approach and kick the ball, the speed and power — that won’t change at all.”
More recently, three experts weighed in on the topic of kicking on fields also used for baseball.

The short answer, courtesy of Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe:
"Try not to kick on the dirt."
The medium answer, courtesy of Tony Yelk of Elite Kicking Solutions:
"Have the same style shoe for your plant foot in molded and interchangeable cleats. Figure out which one gives you the best plant during pregame warm ups. Having proper footing allows you to then better control the plane of your leg swing to adjust for how the ball sits on the infield."
The long answer, courtesy of former NFL punter Mike Horan:
"Having played several years in Denver, the old Mile High Stadium was a familiar multi-purpose field that was shared by the Broncos and the Denver Zephyrs, a Brewers farm team. As kickers, we had to deal with kicking on infield dirt for at least half a season until sod was laid to cover the infield. The biggest challenge was the transition from grass to dirt or vice versa. The key for me was to test it out in pre-game walk-thrus and warmups and making sure I had the right type of cleat on my plant foot and maintain proper balance through the kick. No one wants to make a highlight film by having their plant foot slide out from under them and land on their back!

The best field I ever punted on was the driving range at Columbine Country Club in Littleton, CO. My good friend, TV and radio personality, Steve Kelley, is a member there and somewhat of a novice long snapper. On a Monday when the course is normally closed, he arranged for us to use the driving range for some punting practice. The grass was so perfectly manicured, it was like artificial turf only better."

Thursday, March 7, 2013

CPIFL 2013 - The Kickers

The Champions Professional Indoor Football League kicks off on March 9th. 

Several of the kickers from the league's ten teams gave us their thoughts on the upcoming season and assorted kicking matters.

Bloomington Edge - Steve Fetzer (Illinois State)

Kansas Koyotes - Chase McCoy (Pittsburg State KS) 

Kansas City Renegades - ???

Lincoln Haymakers - Andrew Nielsen (Doane College)
Lincoln Haymakers - Mike Ziola (Chadron State)
"Since I'm new to arena some places are difficult to kick at with low hanging scoreboards to watch out for and some of the advertising stickers are tough to kick off of."
MidMissouri Outlaws - Derek Doerfler (Baker) 
"I am very excited to be a part of the newly formed CPIFL. The league was formed with teams from the AFL, IFL, and APFL in order to create a regional indoor football league. With the volatility of indoor football leagues, a regional league that cuts down travel costs and overall expenses is key for long-term sustainability. I believe that the future of indoor football will be three regional leagues with one championship.
As a kicker, the rules of the CPIFL allow me to be creative. I have developed a new kickoff that is similar to a knuckleball in baseball. My kickoff is difficult for the returners to pick up/catch. There is no netting in the endzone and the best case scenario on a kickoff is to have the ball hit the back wall so the receiving team starts at their own 5 yard line. I am looking forward to my second season with the Outlaws organization!"
 Oklahoma Defenders - Brandon Noahr (Bacone College)
"I started the kicking game my senior year in high school. I actually played soccer for Broken Arrow Senior High in Broken Arrow, OK. One day at soccer practice I found a football and a kicking tee and just was messing around out on the field and that's where it started. And I must say that Kicking a soccer ball and football are not the same. I then went to college at Bacone College in Muskogee, OK a little NAIA school and spent four years kicking there. My best memory of college football was my sophomore year in 2007 when I hit a 52 yard field goal against Texas College. I had ended up National player of the week, and had numerous player of the weeks throughout my college career.

I then was picked up by the Oklahoma Thunder Semi-Pro Team in 2010 where I had one my first World Bowl Championship (National Championship). A couple of coaches had broken away from the Thunder and started the Oklahoma Defenders. I decided to follow them in our very first season last year. I only played the first 3 games until I left for Basic Training for the USAF. I am now back and ready for this week's game. I was told I would not be suiting out for this weeks game, which is ok with me because I don't like things handed to me I like to work for it. It stinks because I live out of town from where we practice so I can only make it once a week. I just know deep down that when I go once a week I am still stronger and more accurate then the guy who took my spot when I left for BMT. My coaches know this and know how I can play, but my special teams coach seems that it is fair because the other kicker has came to every practice (whom lives in town). They said we will see how he does this weekend and possibly have their minds made up. I know that a bunch of the guys are going to be disappointed that I am not suiting out for the first game, but nothing I can do now."
Oklahoma Defenders - Billy Perry (Greenville College)

Omaha Beef - Lucas Tomlinson (Hastings College) 
Omaha Beef - Mike Stillmock (Creighton)

Salina Bombers - Corey Hoover (Missouri State)

Sioux City Bandits - Nick Hope (Wayne State College)
Sioux City Bandits - Max Martin (Wayne State College)

Wichita Wild - Alex Fambrough (Bethany College)
"It's a whole different mindset in indoor football. In outdoor football I expect to make almost every field goal. With indoor, I have to accept ahead of time that I'm going to fail. I don't plan to fail, I just know it's going to happen more often than not. I have to focus on what I can control and reflect on the good more so than the bad. It's like baseball, some of the highest paid athletes in the world fail 70% of the time and that's considered elite. Anything else in life if you fail 70% of the time you'll be fired, let go or walked away from. Kicking here takes extra focus, a change in technique and the ability to let failure quickly pass you. With as much scoring as there is in indoor football, I don't have time to dwell on my misses when they happen."
Wichita Wild - Austin Ledy (Southwestern College)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

More Specialists Comment on Lauren Silberman's NFL Tryout

Yesterday we compiled various thoughts and comments from kickers, punters & coaches regarding Lauren Silberman's much publicized tryout at an NFL regional combine over the weekend. The story hasn't yet lost momentum, and more thoughts and comments have come our way:

Coach Michael Husted, National Camp Series & Husted Kicking
"Lauren reached out to me a few weeks ago looking for a local kicking coach to help her fine tune her kicking before the NFL regional combine. I didn't know what experience she had and referred her to a couple of people.

From what I read, she had injured her quad a week earlier practicing. Any injury is unfortunate. However, if someone hasn't been training or kicking with the quad, then an injury can happen easily. If you do have an injured quad, the ball when not go far if you kick it.

Being that she didn't have any prior experience kicking on a team points to it being a publicity stunt.  I don't mind that she did it to get attention and some of the media has been harsh on her, but I do give her some credit for going out there and trying..."
Coach Tom Feely,  Feely Kicking School
"I think this writer hits the nail on the head!"
Ben Aguilar,Chicago Thunder kicker, MSFL
"I am all about equal rights and IF a female can compare or even outperform a male, I will take her in a heartbeat. So long as she can do it. I appreciate the thought of her trying to 'open doors' or 'inspire' other females, but I believe it had an adverse effect. It made her look totally out of her element as well as legitimizing that this woman had no sense in being there.

The excuse of being hurt (in my humble opinion) is beyond wrong. I have kicked with a torn quad and torn hamstring (individual times) and have kicked better than that. Many train for years day-in-day-out to get even a chance to get where she was. to try and insult this caliber of athletes by saying she just started training months before is beyond words. 
I know a great female kicker that would be great (not that she is NFL status) and currently plays arena. If we are going to give someone a chance, give it to her."
Mo Isom, former LSU Womens Soccer goalie who tried out at kicker for the football team:

PIFL 2013 - The Kickers

Another year of the Professional Indoor Football League kicks off on March 8th. Several of the kickers from the league's seven teams gave us their thoughts on the upcoming season and assorted kicking matters.

Alabama Hammers - Brian Jackson (Ball State) 
"I'm excited to be able to continue my kicking career at the pro level with the Alabama Hammers of the PIFL. This will be my sixth year playing in the arena leagues, and I could not be happier kicking for Coach Cokinos. He has great connections with players and coaches, and him, along with Hammer's management are top of the line. Huntsville has had 14 straight years of professional football, and I look forward to doing my part to win the PIFL championship this season. #HammerDown"
Albany Panthers -  Ryan Gates (Gardner-Webb)

Columbus Lions - Chandler Brooks (Auburn)

Knoxville Nighthawks - Alex Walls (Tennessee)

Lehigh Valley Steelhawks - George Pierson (Kansas State)
"I am commuting back and forth from Washington, D.C. Working as a personal trainer in DC and continuing on with my NGO I started in 2010 that deals with the underprivileged and disadvantage youth in Africa... the United States Africa Sports and Education Foundation (USASEF).
Wrote a blog too while I was in Cape Town: Stage Set for Semis in the Africa Cup of Nations."
Louisiana Swashbucklers - Blake Bercegeay (McNeese State)
Louisiana Swashbucklers - Ernesto Lacayo (Hastings College)
"My time here so far in the South Western part of Louisiana with Swashbucklers has been a good experience. I am truly excited to showcase my kicking abilities in front of our home crowd and the PIFL fans. I feel all my training with Michael Husted and Joe Nedney will pay off throughout this season."
Richmond Raiders - T.C. Stevens (Hampden-Sydney)
"Being a kicker in the PIFL, I love the UNO rule. It’s essentially a 58 yard field goal that’s only worth one point, but the momentum boost that one point gives your team is immeasurable, not to mention how excited the fans get. Every time I met a fan, or even talked to my teammates, the one thing I could count on hearing was, 'how many UNOs you gonna have this week?' "

Monday, March 4, 2013

Specialists Comment on Lauren Silberman's NFL Tryout

As the first female to signup to tryout  for the NFL, the former soccer player gained widespread media attention over the past few weeks. But yesterday's regional combine certainly didn't go as Lauren Silberman had hoped. Her tryout began and ended with two short kickoffs and an aggravated quadriceps injury.
"They certainly didn't go as far as they were in practices, but I tried to work through the pain. I tried staying off it and waited for today," she said. "I didn't even take kicks in warm-ups, and, it's pretty hard to know that you'll be in pain, and I wanted to work through it and I certainly tried to, but I just couldn't do it today.

I've always been an athlete, and I've always been a gamer. When I had the opportunity to be in the NFL, one of the world's most competitive leagues, I absolutely had to take the chance.... I'm just really happy I had this amazing experience. I might be the first woman trying out for the NFL, but I certainly hope I'm not the last."
Various kickers and punters have weighed in with their thoughts on the story. Katie Hnida has football kicking experience at all levels - from high school to college at New Mexico (where she became the first woman to score in D1) to professional (most recently with the Fort Wayne Firehawks of the CIFL).
"Her performance does not have to do with her gender. It has to do with her experience and her preparation. Unfortunately, what's going to happen now is she's going to be looked at (as inferior) because she was female....

I also find it curious she didn't warm up. You never go in kicking cold. There's a reason why the kickers are the first people out there. It takes us a while to warm up....

It is disappointing. I hoped she would go out and do justice for an NFL tryout, because there are lots of people who have dreamed of going to the NFL. It should be something serious."
Pat McAfee, Indianapolis Colts punter, NFL
I could train my mother, who has never kicked a thing except my ass a few times, for about 37 minutes and have her kick farther than 13 yds.

I'm all about ladies trying out.. Why not? But last week she said "I'm hoping to kick those 60s.. 60 yarders".. I was excited 2 see it....  Plenty of folks in the league who can't hit from 60.. Was excited to welcome our 1st lady to the 60+ club... 13 yards.. Hold on.
Stefan Demos, San Antonio Talons kicker, AFL
"It's a joke. It was a publicity stunt to promote her business. If there is a female that has the talent to play in the NFL one day then I am all for it. To have her kick two kickoffs that went less than 40 yards total is a complete embarrassment. It really is sad though, because her media circus could have distracted guys that were there that had legitimate chances of doing well."
Coach Brent Grablachoff, Kicking World
"She wasted the time and eyeballs/opportunities for real prospects who have worked their entire lives for one chance in front of NFL Scouts. It is the dream of many aspiring kickers to play in the NFL and we all know how difficult it is. This is not an opportunity that should be wasted and just given to anyone to make a joke of. And no, I don’t say this was a complete joke because she's a girl, I say these things because she couldn’t kick the ball farther than a five year old and there was never a real chance of her getting taken seriously. This spectacle or publicity stunt (or whatever you want to call it) wasted the time of the scouts and took away exposure opportunities from worthwhile combine participants who had a real shot at a dream. I hope the NFL never allows this kind of thing to happen again in the future."
FilipFilipovic, The Kicking Coach
"This whole spectacle was very insulting to:
1. 32 NFL kickers - 32 best people in the world at what they do.
2. Every real female kicker who spent years working on her skills.
3. Every person in the world who put serious time, effort and resources toward a goal that was meaningful to them. 
She was quoted saying that she hopes to "inspire" others to try out. Well, I hoped that she "inspired" every parent who read this story to teach their kids that if you dream big without working hard, people will laugh at you - just like they did at Laura Silberman. As far as the tryout itself - 2 kicks under 20 yards...everyone who saw her first blurry video...where she looks like a below average middle school kicker...knew that her performance would be a spectacular train wreck."
Rob Maver, Calgary Stampeders punter, CFL
"Being frank, I cannot figure out why anybody thinks they can kick in general, never mind in arguably one of the most exclusive talent pools in all of sport. It's unfortunate these kicking sideshows receive more wide spread attention than the many qualified candidates with actual playing experience."
Julie Harshbarger, Kane County Dawgs kicker, CIFL
"Lauren Silberman’s attempt to follow her life-long dream in playing in the NFL was very brave. Unfortunately, injuries happen and I wish her a speedy recovery. I was rooting for her, not only for her sake as a future NFL player, but for all women who wish to compete at a higher level.

I have been a place-kicker on a men’s football team since my freshman year of high school. I played all 4 years in high school and 3 years of D3 football. I am now 27 and have made it as far as winning a starting role for a men’s Semi-Professional Outdoor football team (the Roscoe Rush in the Mid States Football League) as well as starting for a Professional Indoor football team in the Continental Indoor Football League.

It has taken me many years and lots of practice to get to where I am today. It is not easy at this level to gain respect and trust from coaches and teammates as a female athlete in their male dominated sport, especially when there is a lot of hype backing the situation. As far as this goes, I feel that Lauren did not help this cause. Because of her dismal performance/tryout, some may now compare her skills to other future female prospect athletes.

Hopefully Lauren can recover from her pulled quad and get back to working on her “technique”. If she gets her kicking form down, hopefully she will be able to increase her hang time with distance and maybe get closer to those 60 yarders.

I am thankful that Lauren had the opportunity to be courageous and show the rest of us females that we can at least be seen and have a shot at making it to the NFL. However, as the first female to try out, I wish that she would have thought about the precedent that she would be setting for all female athletes. I hope other women, including myself, will still have the opportunity that she had."
See part 2 for still more comments.