the study of the kicking components within sports

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Northwestern Wildcats 2013 Specialists

Our summer tour of FBS schools looks at the specialists for the Northwestern Wildcats.

Kicker: Jeff Budzien, senior (Hartland, WI / Arrowhead HS)
Budzien, the returning Bakken-Anderson Big Ten Co-Kicker of the Year, was named to the preseason watch list for the 2013 Lou Groza Award. Budzien was a semifinalist for the Groza Award a year ago when he converted 19-of-20 field goal attempts -- setting an NU single-season record for accuracy -- including 6-of-7 on tries from 40 yards or longer. He also matched his own school record by converting 50-of-50 point after attempts, moving into fifth place all-time in the Big Ten with 101 consecutive made PAT's (101-of-101 career). Budzien keyed several Northwestern victories during the Wildcats' 10-3 season a year ago, highlighted by his 5-for-5 performance on field goal tries in a 22-13 win over Boston College. With his 107 points scored in 2012, Budzien moved into eighth on Northwestern's all-time scoring list with 176 career points, 86 shy of the school standard of 262 set by Brian Gowins (1995-98).
Kicker: Arthur Omilian, sophomore (Atlanta, GA / Pace Academy)
2012: Appeared in win over South Dakota, performing one kickoff ... Academic All-Big Ten honoree
High school:  In 2010, converted 7-of-9 field goals with a long of 50 yards, hit on 44-of-46 PAT's and recorded 37 touchbacks on 59 kickoffs
Kicker: Jack Mitchell, freshman (San Diego, CA / Torrey Pines HS)
2012: Redshirted his freshman season

Also a member of the baseball team: "For Mitchell, football season is easier to manage because morning practices allow for schoolwork and relaxation in the afternoon. During baseball season, Mitchell won’t get back to his dorm until the evening, often times with a mountain of homework waiting for him. 'Fitz kind of excused me from all winter and spring workouts for football,' he said. 'I don’t know how I would have managed without that'.”
Kicker/punter: Hunter Niswander, freshman (Peninsula, OH / Woodridge HS) 
Rated as the No. 12 place-kicking prospect in the nation by ... Named first-team All-Ohio Division III by the AP ... NUC All-American game invitee ... Played and served as captain in the Thanksgiving All-Star game for North Ohio ... Broke state record for most consecutive made PATs at 111 in 2012 ... Owns the longest made field goal in school history (53 yards) ... Also lettered three years in soccer and two in basketball
"Budzien and punter Brandon Williams have evolved into something like model figures for Niswander. Patriots punter Zoltan Mesko and personal coach Filip Filipovic are the first names Niswander talks about, but Budzien and Williams are on his short list. 'I look up to the guys at Northwestern,' he said. Cracking an 80-net-yard punt or nailing a long game-winning field goal would be nice first year accomplishments for Niswander, but his goals are surprisingly modest. 'I’m just expecting to come in and compete,' he said."
Punter: Brandon Williams, senior (Nappanee, IN / Northwood HS)
2012: Completed third season as NU's starting punter ... Ranked seventh in the Big Ten in punting average (39.9) ... Academic All-Big Ten
Punter: Chris Gradone, sophomore (Cincinnati, OH / St. Xavier)
2012: Did not appear in any games while backing up junior Brandon Williams

High school: First-team All-GCL South and second-team all-region punter as a senior ... Averaged 40.7 yards per punt over 54 punts, the second-best season average in St. Xavier history ... Punted 33 times as a junior and held opponents to a school-record (-6) yards per punt return
Punter: Zak Kucera, freshman (Chesterland, OH / West Geauga HS)
2012: Redshirted his true freshman season.

High School: Prolific quarterback and punter at West Geauga High School, finishing fourth in school history in career passing yards (1,497), third in single-season touchdown tosses and tops in career punting, averaging 39.1 yards per punt ... Named first-team All-Chagrin Valley Conference, first-team All-Geauga County and second-team all-district as a senior
Punter/kicker: Matt Micucci, freshman (Lake Zurich, IL / Stevenson)
2012: Redshirted his freshman season. 

High School: Earned starting roles as punter, kicker and quarterback for 2011 season ... Led his team to a 24-22 upset of nationally ranked and three-time state champion Maine South in second round of 8A playoffs, completing 20-of-32 passes for 252 yards and two touchdowns while kicking one field goal ... Converted all 50 of his PAT attempts as a junior, including the game-winner in 24-23 victory vs. state 7A runner-up Lake Zurich
Long snapper: Pat Hickey, senior (Chicago, IL / Loyola Academy)
2012: Completed his second year as NU's full-time long and short-snapper, playing in all 13 games
Long snapper: Chris Fitzpatrick, freshman (Lawrenceburg, KY / Anderson County HS) 
"The offseason has been great, we workout in the mornings as well as run. Not all of our specialists are here in Evanston, but the few that are we meet up in the afternoons to get some kicks and snaps in. We're also required to take a class so I also have that twice a week. So I've been staying pretty busy during the weeks. Some goals that I've been focusing on is of course to continue to work on my snaps and school work, but also working on my speed and blocking as well. As I've learned in college everyone can snap, the main focus is if you can get down the field and make a play. To wrap it all up mainly focusing on the small details before heading into camp."

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