the study of the kicking components within sports

Friday, April 25, 2014

Draft Preview: Drew Basil

Among the kickers eligible for this year's NFL draft, or signing as an undrafted free agent thereafter, is Ohio State's Drew Basil. He ranks in the top ten in some of the various draft rankings.

Excerpts from Basil's profile page on the Buckeyes' website:

2013 Senior Season
  • holds two school records - single season extra points and field goal pct.
  • excellent tackler on kickoff team with 20 career tackles including 17 solos
  • honorable mention all-Big Ten Conference honors by the coaches and media
  • had a school-record string of 102 consecutive extra points snapped when he missed his final attempt in the 60-35 win over Illinois
2012 Junior Season
  • Drew only attempted 11 field goals (making eight) in 2012 as Ohio State was a touchdown-scoring machine, scoring the fourth-most touchdowns in school history: 60 ... Drew was big when he needed to be, though ... despite just six attempts through the team's first 11 games, he connected on four-of-five vs. Michigan (plus two extra points) for a career-best 14 points in the Buckeyes' 26-21 win ... included was a career-long 52-yarder and a 41-yarder.
2011 Sophomore Season
  • led all Big Ten kickers in field goal percentage
  • 12 consecutive field goals - the third-longest streak in school history - to close out the season
2010 Freshman Season
  • As a true freshman, handled all of the kickoff duties
  • did attempt two field goals, both from over 50 yards
High School
  • career long field goal of 47 yards; 13-13 on PAT as a senior
  • second team all-Ohio
  • team captain for the Cavaliers
  • four-year starter
  • also played soccer and bowling at Chillicothe

College Stats:
2013: 9 of 10 (90.0%) FGs; 77 of 79 PATs; 104 points
2012: 8 of 11 (72.7%) FGs; 56 of 57 PATs; 80 points
2011: 16 of 19 (84.2%) FGs; 36 of 37 PATs; 84 points
2010: 0 of 2 (0%) FGs; 0 of 0 PATs; 0 points

Last October, Basil discussed the origins of his kicking career:
"When [my older brother] Kyle was going into his freshman year of high school, he was going to kick for the football team. They had team camp at Thomas More College in Kentucky. I tagged along. [Former Bengals kicker] Doug Pelfrey was there to teach them how to kick. I watched and learned and kept kicking and kicking and kicking. I was going into fifth grade at that point.... I didn’t know I wanted to kick in college until the summer going into my freshman year of high school."

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Draft Preview: Cody Parkey

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

Excerpts from Parkey's profile page on the Tigers' website:

2013 Senior Season
  • first in the nation with 69 touchbacks this season
  • 142 of 248 career kickoffs were touchbacks (.573)
  • field goals of 40, 19, 47 yards vs. Mississippi State
  • career long 52-yard field goal in SEC Championship Game vs. Missouri, a title game record
  • Senior Bowl most outstanding specialist
2012 Junior Season
  • made nine consecutive field goals before missing a 49-yard attempt against Arkansas
  • 33 touchbacks on 48 kickoffs (68.7%)
  • 4-4 on FG vs. Clemson at Georgia Dome, including a career-long 46-yarder ... four FG tied Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic record
  • kicked 35-yard game-winner in overtime vs. ULM
  • SEC Special Teams player of week (ULM) ... Groza Award star of the week (Clemson)
2011 Sophomore Season
  • Phil Steele All-SEC Third Team
  • 38 touchbacks, the second most in the SEC and third most in FBS
  • made the first two field goals of his collegiate career (43 and 37) against Mississippi State 
  • booted a 42-yard field goal with 35 seconds remaining to ice the win over Florida
  • hit 2-3 field goals including a then-career-long 45-yarder in Chick-fil-A Bowl win over Virginia
2010 Freshman Season
  • Appeared in seven games, averaging 63.2 yards on 35 kickoffs
High School
  • No. 1-ranked kicker by Inc. ... No. 2-ranked placekicker by ... ranked by as the No. 1 most accurate kicker and the No. 6 kicker overall 
  • 2010 Under Armour All-American game
  • named to the PrepStar All-America team
  • 8-9 on PATs and 9-12 on FG attempts in his senior season including a long of 42 yards ... all of his missed field goal attempts came from at least 49 yards
  • kicked field goals of 51 and 43 yards during the Outback All-Star game in Palm Beach, Fla.

College Stats:
2013: 15 of 21 (71.4%) FGs; 66 of 67 PATs; 111 points
2012: 11 of 14 (78.6%) FGs; 27 of 27 PATs; 60 points
2011: 13 of 18 (72.2%) FGs; 41 of 42 PATs; 80 points
2010: 0 of 0 (0%) FGs; 2 of 2 PATs; 2 points

Last month following Auburn's Pro Day, Parkey discussed the prospect of landing in the NFL:
"I've got some individual workouts coming up with some teams. I could be a late draft pick. ... if I'm a free agent, a lot of them were telling me they really want me to give their team a shot. All positive news....
I'd love to get drafted. That's the dream, I think anyone would rather get drafted than be a free agent. Whatever scenario comes my way, I'm going to make the best of it."

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Draft Preview: Pat O'Donnell

Among the punters eligible for this year's NFL draft, or signing as an undrafted free agent thereafter, is Miami (FL)'s Pat O'Donnell. He ranks in the top three in the majority of the various draft rankings.

Excerpts from O'Donnell's profile page on the Hurricanes' website:

2013 Senior Season
  • Played in all 13 games, handling kickoff and punting duties ... Also holder for field goal and point-after attempts
  • Set Miami single-season record with 47.1 yards-per-punt average
  • 23 kicks of 50+ yards ... Finished season with punt of 50+ yards in eight straight games 
  • Second-team All-America by USA TODAY Sports and third-team All-America by Athlon Sports 
  • First-team All-ACC selection by ACSMA, league's head coaches and Athlon Sports 
  • Booted four kicks of 50+ yards, including a 60-yarder, in Miami's upset win over No. 12/9 Florida
  • Season-best average of 55.2 yards per punt against Virginia Tech ... Three punts went for 50+ yards, including then-season-high 63-yarder
  • Punted seven times vs. Virginia, including three punts of 50+ yards ... Five of seven kicks landed inside UVA 20-yard line, including UM career-long 71-yarder
  • Forced fumble on opening kickoff at Pitt - career-first takeaway ... Turnover led to first of three Stacy Coley TDs ... Was named ACC Specialist of the Week
  • Averaged 63.1 yards on 79 kickoff attempts
2012 Junior Season (Cincinnati)
  • Second-team All-BIG EAST selection
  • Against USF (11/23) punted seven times for 300 yards and 42.9 yard average including season-best 65 yards while making five kickoffs for 312 yards and adding two touchbacks
  • Recorded season-long 63-yard punt vs. Fordham (10/12)
  • Averaged 64.8 yards on nine kickoffs against Miami University (10/6), including seven touchbacks
  • Named BIG EAST Special Teams Player of the Week following game vs. Virginia Tech (9/29) ... Punted five times and averaged 44.6 yards per punt ... Pinned Hokies inside 20-yard line four times.
2011 Sophomore Season (Cincinnati)
  • First-team All-BIG EAST selection
  • 61 kickoffs for 3,915 yards, and 1 tackle
  • 8 touchbacks, 9 fair catches, 26 landing inside 20, 17 kicks over 50 yards
  • Had 64.2-yard per kickoff average, with 7 touchbacks and only 2 going out of bounds
  • Totaled 8 punts for 285 yards, 1 touchback, 2 fair caught, 1 going over 50 yards, 3 punts landing inside 20, to go along with 5 kicks for 335 yards against Connecticut (12/3)
  • Punted 7 times for 300 yards, 1 touchback, 2 were fair caught, 1 going over 50 yards, 4 landing inside 20, and 2 kickoffs that totaled 120 yards against Rutgers (11/19)
  • Had longest punt of season against NC State going for 76 yards and highest yards per punt average of 59.7 yards (9/22).
2010 Freshman Season (Cincinnati)
  • Named starting punter entering 2010 season
  • Kicked eight times inseason opener for 304 yards and 38.0-yard average ... Dropped three kicks inside 20 and booted 51-yarder.
2009 True Freshman Season (Cincinnati)
  • Played in three games at punter before being sideline with injury
High School
  • Three-year letterwinner at both football and track and field
  • Averaged 45 yards on punts and had 95-percent touchback rate of kickoffs
  • Earned first-team all-state and all-district honors as a senior
  • Co-winner of 2008 Lou Groza Award for top kicker in Palm Beach County
  • Played in 2009 Outback All-Star Game
  • Made seven field goals as senior, including long of 52 yards

College Stats:
2013: 53 punts, 47.1 yard average, long of 71 yards
2012: 59 punts, 41.8 yard average, long of 65 yards
2011: 63 punts, 43.8 yard average, long of 76 yards
2010: 52 punts, 41.9 yard average, long of 61 yards
2009: 7 punts, 37.9 yard average, long of 50 yards

Way back in 2008, the then high school senior O'Donnell discussed his kicking career:
"I am probably one of the strongest kids on the football team. No one gives me any [grief]. I would like to start when I go to college. They think I might be a punter and kickoff guy who can also do field goals....I worked hard all season. I didn't know what the outcome would be, but I expected big things out of myself and so did a lot of others.... It is always someone's dream to play for the NFL. I am just going to play in college and if I focus on it, the rest will take care of itself."

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Draft Preview: Chris Boswell

Among the kickers eligible for this year's NFL draft, or signing as an undrafted free agent thereafter, is Rice's Chris Boswell. He ranks in the top three in the majority of the various draft rankings, and is number one in quite a few.

Excerpts from Boswell's profile page on the Owls' website:

2013 Senior Season
  • participated in the 2014 Senior Bowl
  • Three-time C-USA Special Teams Player of the Week
  • Drilled a 50-yd FG at NMSU, his 13th career kick of better than 50 yards vs. Kansas... No other active kicker has more than five from that range
  • 56-yarder to retake the lead vs. Kansas was his third from 55 yards or longer
  • Has at least one FG from 50 yards or more in each season
  • Held opponents to starting at their 24 after his kickoffs, thanks to 54 touchbacks on 70 kickoffs
2012 Junior Season
  • Lead the nation with six field goals from 50 yards or more and was 6x8 from that distance
  • Tied the NCAA record vs. SMU becoming the sixth kicker in history to hit three field goals of 50 yards or longer in a game...Three long kicks were part of a school-record five on the day
  • Had kicks from 57 (vs. Louisiana Tech to tie the school record) and 56 (vs. SMU) this year, making him the first kicker in conference history to have two kicks from 55 yards or better in a season
  • Hit 9x12 field goals from 45 yards or longer
  • Held opponents to only 27 kickoff returns, thanks to 49 touchbacks on 80 kickoffs... Only saw one go out of bounds while averaging 63.8 yards per kick
  • Finished 10th in C-USA punting, averaging 40.5 on 14 punts with a of 53 vs. Houston...Top punting effort was vs. Tulsa where he placed four of six punts inside the 20
2011 Sophomore Season
  • Groza Award Semifinalist
  • First team All C-USA by, second team by Phil Steele and Honorable Mention selection by C-USA coaches
  • Only misses came from 60, 54, 45 and 38 (slipping on rain soaked field)
  • Averaged 63.1 yds on 59 kickoffs and doubled the Owls' touchbacks from 2010 (14)
  • Named C-USA Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance vs. Tulane...Converted twice from more than 50 yards vs. the Green Wave, including a career-long, 54-yarder into the wind in the second quarter... averaged 69.8 on five kickoffs against Tulane and was honored by the College Football Performance Awards as one of their Kickoff Specialists of the Week
2010 Freshman Season
  • Took over the Owls placekicking duties after redshirting in 2009 and earned All Freshman honors from league coaches
  • Named one of the Lou Groza Award Stars of the Week for his performance against North Texas... Tied the school record by kicking four field goals in the Owls' 32-31 win over North Texas... Tied the mark first set by Joel Baxter vs. TCU in 1981 and matched by Matt Huelsman, also against TCU, in 1994... First field goal was a 50-yarder, the longest field goal for the Owls since Luke Juist kicked a 53-yarder in 2004... Added a second 50-yard kick in the first quarter, becoming the first Rice kicker to have two field goals of 50-yards or more in the same game
High School
  • Fifth-ranked kicker by
  • four-time, All-District 5-5A at Keller Fossil Ridge
  • converted on 39 of 43 field goals in his career and was perfect on 172 career PAT attempts
  • named to the Associated Press All-State first team and to the Texas Sportswriters Association Class 5A All-State second team as a senior
  • selected to play in the 2009 US Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio
  • selected to play in the THSCA All Star Game in Austin in July
  • played baseball and soccer at Fossil Ridge

College Stats:
2013: 14 of 21 (66.7%) FGs; 47 of 49 PATs; 89 points
2012: 23 of 29 (79.3%) FGs; 45 of 47 PATs; 114 points
2011: 17 of 21 (81.0%) FGs; 31 of 32 PATs; 82 points
2010: 11 of 17 (64.7%) FGs; 41 of 44 PATs; 74 points

Last month, amidst the hoopla regarding extra points in the NFL, Boswell provided his thoughts on pro kicking compared to college:
"That's probably the biggest reason the NFL is so good. You go from college, where you're kind of on your own, to in the NFL, you have a specific coach that helps you with kicking. When you get to the NFL, you can only get better, and improve. And how seriously they take trying to make one third of the game harder is definitely a compliment."

Monday, April 21, 2014

Draft Preview: Cody Mandell

Among the punters eligible for this year's NFL draft, or signing as an undrafted free agent thereafter, is Alabama's Cody Mandell. He ranks in the top seven in the majority of the various draft rankings.

Excerpts from Mandell's profile page on the Crimson Tides' website:

2013 Senior Season
  • First Team All-SEC by the Associated Press 
  • Second Team All-SEC by the SEC Coaches
  • selected as the Ray Guy Award Player of the Week and SEC Special Teams Player of the Week after career performance against Mississippi State... had four punts for 220 yards, averaging 55.0 yards per punt... booted three punts over 50 yards with two longer than 60 yards, both of which were marked inside the 3-yard line... long was 63 yards, and he finished with net average of 53.8 yards per punt
2012 Junior Season
  • dropped 17 punts inside the 20-yard line
  • owns 12 kicks of 50-plus yards during the 13-game season with a long of 61
  • also has forced 13 fair catches and allowed only 15 returns for an average of 7.7 yards/return (115 yards; long return of 14)
  • Michigan: Named one of the specialists of the week by the Alabama coaching staff, after averaging 47 yards on four kicks in the win against the Wolverines ... drilled a long punt of 59 yards to total two over 50 while placing two inside the 20. 
  • LSU: Named one of the specialists of the week by the Alabama coaching staff ... punted a season-high seven times for 316 yards, holding a 45.1 average against the Tigers ... had two punts over 50 yards and another two placed inside the 20.  
  • Texas A&M: Named one of the specialists of the week by the coaching staff ... averaged a career-best 56.5 per punt on four punts ... nailed four punts over 50 yards, including two that went for 60 yards
2011 Sophomore Season
  • recorded 11 punts inside the 20 and forced 17 fair catches
  • Florida: Punted five times for 199 yards, averaging 39.8 per kick ... drilled all five punts inside the 20
  • Auburn: Was named one of the Specialists of the Week by the Alabama coaching staff ... punted three times for an average of 40.3 yards per punt ... nailed one punt inside the 20. 
  • LSU (BCS National Championship Game): Produced his best game of the season with a 44.3 yards per kick average on three punts ... equaled his season long with a 52-yard boot ... allowed only one punt return for one yard.
2010 Freshman Season
  • earned the punting duties for the Crimson Tide as a walk-on true freshman
  • garnered Freshman All-SEC honors from the league's coaches
  • recorded nine punts of over 50 yards and had 13 downed inside the opponent's 20-yard line
  • Arkansas: Punted three times for 137 yards for an average of 45.7 yards ... tallied one punt of 59 yards and kept the Razorbacks inside the 20 on two occasions.  
  • Mississippi: Punted five times for 191 yards and a total of 38.2 yards per kick ... drilled two punts over 50 yards and placed four attempts inside the 20
  • LSU: Punted a career-high six times for 246 yards, averaging 41 yards per punt ... drilled one punt over 50 yards and nailed two inside the 20
High School
  • ranked him as the country's fifth-best punter in the 2010 recruiting class 
  • averaged 45.5 yards per kick as a senior in 2009 for Acadiana High School and produced touchbacks on 77 percent of his kickoffs
  • averaged 43.0 yards per kick as a junior in 2008 with a long of 56 yards
  • also served as the placekicker in 2007 and 2008, connecting on 72-of-76 extra points and 1-of-4 field goals

College Stats:
2013: 39 punts, 47.1 yard average, long of 63 yards
2012: 50 punts, 44.3 yard average, long of 61 yards
2011: 39 punts, 39.3 yard average, long of 52 yards
2010: 41 punts, 39.2 yard average, long of 59 yards

Back in January, Mandell discussed his preparations heading into the Senior Bowl:
"[The K-ball]'s really different, as far as watching the rotation. There's no white lines on it, so it's a little bit different than what I'm used to it. My snapper's left-handed so that's also pretty different. Just a bunch of different things to get used to this week. I can show my versatility. I have to overcome it and show I can overcome it.... It was fun. First day it's just getting the jitters out. It's football. You've got to do what you've always done and not try to do anymore."
He also discussed his career goals:
"I like to go into everything with a one-track mind. You've always got to have a backup plan, but at the same time you've got to focus. You've got to set a goal for yourself. My goal is to get drafted."

Friday, April 18, 2014

Draft Preview: Mitch Ewald

Among the kickers eligible for this year's NFL draft, or signing as an undrafted free agent thereafter, is Indiana's Mitch Ewald. He ranks in the top ten in some of the various draft rankings.

Excerpts from Ewald's profile page on the Hoosiers' website:

2013 Senior Season
  • The program's all-time leader in field goals, field goal percentage and extra points. He is also tops among kickers and second overall with 320 points.
  •  Named second team All-Big Ten by the coaches and honorable mention by the media
  • Indiana's Special Teams Player of the Year
  • averaged a career-best 63.3 yards on 77 kickoffs with a career-high 38 touchbacks ... topped conference and ranked 15th nationally in average ... touchbacks were second in Big Ten and shared 17th nationally
  • hit a pair of field goals, including a career-best 50-yarder, and all five extra points at Michigan ... 50-yarder was 18th in school history and program's first since 2002
  • closed career 9-of-13 (69.2) from 45-plus yards 
2012 Junior Season
  • Indiana's Special Ops Player of the Year (special teams)
  • averaged 61.5 yards on 68 kickoffs with 31 touchbacks
  • recovered third onside kick of career at Penn State
2011 Sophomore Season
  • Received honorable mention All-Big Ten from the coaches and media
  • averaged 61.7 yards on 50 kickoffs with eight touchbacks
  • posted a perfect 10-of-10 mark from inside 40 yards 
2010 Freshman Season
  • honorable mention All-Big Ten from the coaches
  • All-Freshman team 
  • averaged 58.4 yards on 52 kickoffs with three touchbacks 
  • forced overtime with a 26-yarder and hit game-winner from 31 yards in victory at Purdue 
High School
  • rated the No. 3 kicker nationally by, No. 4 by and No. 5 by
  • earned all-state, all-city, all-area and all-conference honors in 2008
  • captain of the High School All-American Bowl
  • connected on a career-long 47-yard field goal and recorded an 85.0-percent touchback rate as a senior
  • two-year football letterwinner also lettered in baseball

College Stats:
2013: 9 of 11 (81.8%) FGs; 56 of 56 PATs; 83 points
2012: 15 of 20 (75.0%) FGs; 42 of 43 PATs; 87 points
2011: 13 of 16 (81.3%) FGs; 30 of 30 PATs; 69 points
2010: 16 of 19 (84.2%) FGs; 33 of 33 PATs; 81 points

Last July, Ewald discussed his approach to kicking:
"The big thing for me is my technique. I'm not the biggest guy in the world. I'm not the most powerful kicker out there. I don't have the strongest leg. But I've always relied a lot on technique and form and fundamentals. So every year in the offseason that's a big thing for me. That's what I emphasize. Because when it comes down to game situations you're only out there for 1.5 seconds or whatever it is. You just have to go out there and do what you've done a million times. So it's all about emphasizing fundamentals and technique.''
Last September, he summarized his multiple roles:
"My first role on this team is to be a team leader, secondly just a football player, and thirdly a kicker."

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Draft Preview: Tom Hornsey

Among the punters eligible for this year's NFL draft, or signing as an undrafted free agent thereafter, is Memphis's Tom Hornsey. He ranks in the top five in the majority of the various draft rankings.

Excerpts from Hornsey's profile page on the Tigers' website:

2013 Senior Season
  • 2013 Ray Guy Award recipient
  • Selected to play in the 2014 NFL Players Association Collegiate Bowl
  • Four-year starting punter who averaged 43.15 yards over his playing career
  • Over his career had 34 games in which he averaged 40+ yards (minimum four punts per game) which was just off the NCAA record of 37 games
  • Booted 73 punts of 50+ yards ... Had 13 punts of 60 yards or more including a career-long 79-yarder during senior season
  • Placed 101 career punts inside opponents' 20-yard line (34 percent) ... Over his career, had just 12 touchbacks (four percent)
  • Also a threat on fake punts, converting all four of his attempts ... Rushed three times for 62 yards (27, 21 and 14 yards) and also completed a 61-yard pass during career
  • Began the year by averaging 45.6 yards per punt against Duke ... Placed four of his seven punts inside the Blue Devils' 20-yard line and had two punts of 50+ yards including a season-best, 79-yarder ... The 79-yard punt against Duke tied for the second-longest punt of the 2013 season and the second-longest in Memphis history (Roland Eveland had an 85-yard punt against Washington in 1950)
  • Followed up the Duke game by averaging 49.6 yards per punt against Middle Tennessee and was named the winner of the first ever Ray Guy Award Player of the Week
  • Received his second Ray Guy Award Player of the Week recognition after averaging 46.8 yards in the Tigers' win over UT Martin ... Among his punts was a 70-yarder, which ties for the sixth longest in school history, and had three punts downed inside the Skyhawks' 20
2012 Junior Season
  • Placed 25 of his 60 punts inside opponents' 20 yard line (42 percent) ... Of the 25 punts inside opponents' 20, had 15 of those punts downed inside the 10, including eight inside the five
  • In the first two games of the 2012 season, had 60+ yard punts in both contests, had a total of five punts of 50+ yards and 10 downed inside opponents' 20-yard line
  • Averaged 45.9 yards per punt during the first two weeks of the season including at Arkansas State where he had eight punts for a 46.8 yard average ... Seven of his punts at A-State were downed inside the Red Wolves' 20 including four inside the 10 ... For his efforts at Arkansas State, was named the National Punter of the Week by the College Football Performance Awards
  • Averaged a season-high 52.7 yards on three punts against Tulane while helping alter field position in the game ... Had a pair of punts from inside the Memphis where downed at the Tulane 37 and 23 (52 and 45 yard punts, respectively) and also had a 61-yard punt in the game.
2011 Sophomore Season
  • The 95 punts and 3,993 yards both set school single-season records
  • led C-USA in punts over 50 yards (19) and was second in punt inside the 20 yard line (23) ... 
  • Had only five touchbacks in his 95 punt attempts
  • logged four solo stops and a fumble recovery on special teams
  • Landed a season-best four punts inside the 20 yard line vs Arkansas State 
  • Posted career highs (single game) for punts (12) and punt yardage (475) vs SMU ... His 12 punts and 475 punt yardage both were the second-most for a single game in school history ... Tied a season high for four punts inside the 20 vs the Mustangs
  • Had a season-best four punts of 50 or more yards vs Rice ... Punted 10 times for 47.1 average vs the Owls ... The 471 punt yardage vs the Owls were the third-most for a single game in school history ... Logged a season-high two solo hits vs Rice
2010 Freshman Season
  • Played in first American football games in 2010
  • Totaled 17 punts over 50 yards and dropped 24 punts inside the 20 ... Only 30 percent of his punts were returned
  • In his first game of U.S.-style football, posted 438 yards on nine punts against Mississippi State ... Had four punts over 50 yards, including a long of 57 yards, vs the Bulldogs ... Dropped a career-high five punts inside the 20 vs Mississippi State ... His 438 punt yardage vs the Bulldogs was seventh most for a single game in school history 
High School
  • Attended St. Joseph's College and played Australian Rules Football and tennis
  • Participated in the championship game of the Geelong Football League, a 12-team Australian Rules Football league based in Victoria, Australia
  • The Australian Rules Football junior representative for his region
  • Listed on the Geelong VFL roster for 2008
  • The leading goal kicker for his local club team

College Stats:
2013: 62 punts, 45.2 yard average, long of 79 yards
2012: 60 punts, 43.4 yard average, long of 63 yards
2011: 95 punts, 42.0 yard average, long of 66 yards
2010: 80 punts, 42.7 yard average, long of 63 yards

Last December, Hornseys' career was discussed by someone who knows him well... his mother:
“It’s been a lifelong journey of Tom’s to head in this direction, to play at the highest level possible. We never thought it would be in this direction, though. But the opportunity presented itself and Tom thought he would give it a go.... It’s been a steep learning curve for him, American sports takes a different approach – it’s professional from the word go seven days a week. The workload and body of work expected is very intense. You can’t take your foot off the pedal at all, it’s gruelling, but Tom thrives on that.... We’re proud of him for his dedication and hard work.”
Last September, Hornsey discussed the difference between punting college and NFL balls:
Before coming to the U of M, Hornsey says he practiced exclusively with NFL footballs and actually likes punting those better than the skinnier-in-the-middle college ball. “The pro ball has a bigger sweet spot, allows for more hang time,” he said. “The college ball is more aerodynamic, travels lower and faster. I do feel I can punt there.”

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Draft Preview: Anthony Fera

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

Excerpts from Fera's profile page on the Longhorns' website:

2013 Senior Season
  • first consensus All-America place-kicker and Lou Groza Award finalist in school history
  • first team All-America selection from Walter Camp, American Football Coaches Association and FWAA
  • earned the College Football Performance Awards Specialist Trophy
  • second team All-America pick by AP, and, and a third team All-America choice from Athlon
  • earned first team All-Big 12 honors from the AP, coaches, San Antonio Express-News, Athlon, Sporting News and
  • had a school record streak of 15 straight field goals snapped vs. Baylor 
  • 32 of his 75 punts (42.7 percent - 11th in the FBS) had gone inside the 20 and 41 have been fair caught (54.7 percent) ... only three touchbacks on the season
  • hit all four extra-point attempts, one field goal and averaged 43.9 on eight punts, including five inside the 20 (three inside the 10), against Iowa State ... named honorable mention for specialist of the week by the College Football Performance Awards for his play vs. the Cyclones
  • hit all three extra-point attempts, three field goals, and averaged 40.0 on seven punts, including only second touchback of season, against TCU ... named Big 12 Special Teams Player of the week and honorable-mention national place-kicker of the week by the CFPA for his play vs. the Horned Frogs
  • hit all five extra-point attempts, had a career-high four field goals, a career-best 17 points and averaged 42.8 on six punts, including three inside the 20, against West Virginia ... named a Lou Groza Award Star of the Week, Big 12 Special Teams co-Player of the Week and UT special teams player of the game for his performance vs. the Mountaineers
  • hit all five extra-point attemts, two field goals, including a 49-yarder, and averaged 32.4 on five punts against Texas Tech ... his performance against the Red Raiders earned him Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week and honorable mention specialist of the week by the College Football Performance Awards
2012 Junior Season
  • Played in six games ... missed the first four games with a groin injury and was never completely healthy the rest of the season
2011 Sophomore Season (Penn State)
  • Selected as a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award
  • named first-team All-Big Ten by as a punter
  • also a candidate for the Ray Guy Award
  • averaged 42.0 yards on 64 punts, with 18 inside the 20 and 12 of 50 or more yards
  • also handled 45 of the team’s 55 kickoffs, with 10 touchbacks
  • was 3-for-4 on field goals and placed three punts inside the 20 at Indiana to earn Big Ten Special Teams Player-of-the-Week honors for the first time
  • gained his second conference honor in three weeks by averaging 44.5 yards on six punts, including a 69-yard punt in the final three minutes to pin Purdue at the 1-yard line
  • broke his Penn State career long for field goals twice in the win at Ohio State, connecting from 43 yards and 46 yards, the latter on the final play of the first half, for a 20-14 lead and the eventual winning score … also placed three punts inside the 20 against the Buckeyes to claim Big Ten weekly honors for the third time in seven games
  • punted nine times against Houston in the TicketCity Bowl, averaging 41.6 yards with a long of 55.
2010 Freshman Season (Penn State)
  • Selected a 2010 second-team Freshman All-American
  • punted during the first 10 games, including handling kickoff duties … missed the last two regular-season games against Indiana and Michigan State following an emergency appendectomy on Nov. 17
  • punted 46 times for an average of 41.4 yards, including 13 inside the 20-yard line, 19 fair catches, and nine of 50-plus yards
  • also kicked of 49 times with 19 touchbacks
  • launched a career-long 74-yard punt, the fourth-longest attempt in Penn State history and the team’s longest since 2004, in the fourth quarter against Iowa … punted a career-high nine times vs. the Hawkeyes
  • returned against Florida in the Outback Bowl following his appendectomy, punting three times for a 38.7-yard average with a long of 52 yards.
High School
  • selected as a 2008 Under Armour All-American
  • earned first-team all-state honors as a junior and senior
  • connected on 37 of 39 on PAT attempts and 8 of 9 on field goals, with a long of 58 yards as a senior
  • registered touchbacks on 55 of his 60 kickoffs
  • averaged 44.1 yards on 36 punts

College Stats:
2013: 20 of 22 (90.9%) FGs; 45 of 46 PATs; 105 points
2012: 2 of 4 (50.0%) FGs; 23 of 25 PATs; 29 points
2011: 14 of 17 (82.4%) FGs; 20 of 20 PATs; 62 points

Earlier this month, we checked in with Fera regarding his preparations for the Draft:
"I've been working on a lot of things. I've changed my diet, workouts and even started stretching every day. I really needed to get back into kicking off. It took a couple of months to figure everything out but I'm hitting the ball better than ever right now. Now that the Combine and my Pro Day are over, I'm sticking to my routine and continuing to try and improve myself."

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Draft Preview: Paul Layton

Among the punters eligible for this year's NFL draft, or signing as an undrafted free agent thereafter, is Temple's Paul Layton. He ranks in the top ten in some of the various draft rankings.

Excerpts from Layton's profile page on the Owls' website:

2013 Senior Season
  • Transfer student from the University at Albany … enrolled at Temple in January 2013
  • Week 8 American Athletic Conference Special teams player of the Week: helped Temple win the field position battle that played a key part in the Owls' 33-14 win against Army. He averaged 45.3 yards on seven punts, resulting in an average starting field position of the 18-yard line for Army on the ensuing drives. 
2012 Junior Season (Albany)
  • first-team All-Northeast Conference honoree
  • averaged a league-best 40.4 yards per punt, including a program record 82-yarder vs. Wagner (11/3)
  • punted 46 times with 11 sailing 50-yards or longer
  • dropped 15 within the 20-yard line. 
2011 Sophomore Season (Albany)
  • first-team All-Northeast Conference honoree
  • ECAC Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Special Team All-Star
  • booted 17 kicks of 50 or more yards.
2010 Freshman Season (Albany)
  • ranked 31st among the national leaders and third in the Northeast Conference
  • placed 14 punts inside the 20-yard line, including seven for touchbacks
  • booted 50-plus yard punts 12 times
  • tied 13th-longest punt in school history with 69-yarder in season finale against Monmouth
High School
  • Four-year letterwinner for coach Matt Shell at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake HS
  • 2008 Class A first-team All-State selection by New York State Sportswriters Association as a kicker ... made 68 of 69 PATs and three field goals ... third on all-time Section II kicking list with 77 points ... averaged 42 yards per punt ... all-time leader in Section II history with 172 career kicking points
  • led high school to state championship game as a quarterback ... passed for 1,302 yards and 14 touchdowns ... rushed for 1,186 yards and 20 TDs
  • consensus All-Area punter as a junior, when he averaged 41 yards per attempt
  • four varsity awards as basketball guard
  • two-time team captain

College Stats:
2013: 61 punts, 42.8 yard average, long of 67 yards
2012: 45 punts, 41.0 yard average, long of 82 yards
2011: 50 punts, 42.3 yard average, long of 70 yards
2010: 62 punts, 40.1 yard average, long of 69 yards

Back in February, Layton looked ahead to a possible pro career:
“[Sit-down interviews] definitely showed that they have some interest in me, but it’s still early in the process. I think over the next few months I’ll get a little more knowledge of who’s really interested. I’ve kind of been trying to put everything in the works for many years now, and it’s starting to take shape but I know there’s a lot more to go....

The guys at the NFL level are very consistent, there’s a huge jump from college to the NFL in terms of being consistent, that’s the biggest thing. You have to perfect your technique, there’s a ton of doing the same motion over and over, you have to be able to do the same thing every time. I’m still working on consistency because you can never really be too good at that....

To have at least some shot at it is pretty thrilling, but I’ve talked to my agent a little more and it seems like the best thing for me is to go undrafted, because you wouldn’t have to be stuck with whatever team takes you in the sixth or seventh round,” he said. “You go undrafted, you may have several offers from teams to pick you up as a free agent so you can sort out where would be the best spot for you....

I’ll definitely keep training for the next two or three years to really give it a shot, I’m not going to quit easily in this thing because it’s what I’ve wanted for so long,” he said. “I’ll keep after it and hope for the best, and really all I ask for is a shot to play somewhere and compete.” 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Draft Preview: Jeff Budzien

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

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

2013 Senior Season
  • Repeated as the Bakken-Andersen Big Ten Kicker of the Year and a first-team All-Big Ten selection
  • first-team honor by The Sporting News and second-team nod from the Walter Camp Foundation
  • Semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award for the second time in as many seasons
  • Broke several Northwestern school records, becoming NU's all-time leader with 280 points (104 in 2013) and a career field goal percentage of .872 
  • Connected on all four field goal attempts vs. Michigan, including a long of 40 in the first quarter
  • Hit a season-long 43-yard field goal in home state against Wisconsin
  • Handled kickoff duties and averages of 61.3 yards with 21 touchbacks on 65 kicks
2012 Junior Season
  • Named Bakken-Anderson Big Ten Co-Kicker of the Year
  • Became first NU kicker to be named first-team All-Big Ten (coaches) since Brian Gowins in 1997
  • Named one of 20 national semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award, 
  • established the NU single-season mark for field goal percentage (95.0)
  • Against Vanderbilt, hit eventual game-winning 18-yard field goal with 2:01 remaining, finishing the game a perfect 3-of-3 with makes from 40, 37 and 18 yards in a 23-13 win ... It was his first career game with multiple made field goals
  • Topped that performance a week later vs. Boston College by going 5-for-5 on field goal attempts, tying the NU school record for FGs in a single game ... Hit from 42, 20, 29, 41 and 19 yards in 22-13 victory over the Eagles en route to Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week honors
  • Finished 3-of-3 on field goal tries (24, 43, 27 yards) at Michigan State, including the game-winner with 7:30 remaining that broke a 20-20 tie
  • Accounted for 10 points in Gator Bowl win vs. Mississippi State, hitting field goal attempts from 34 and 37 yards
2011 Sophomore Season
  • Had a successful debut, booting a 43-yard field for NU's first season points at Boston College
  • Converted a career-long 47-yard field goal at Iowa and all four PAT kicks for a seven-point game
  • Converted both PAT kicks vs. Texas A&M in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas to finish a perfect season for PAT kicks (50-of-50)
2010 Freshman Season
  • Saw first collegiate action versus Illinois State, converting a PAT kick.
High School
  • 2008 MaxPreps first-team All-America kicker
  • Garnered first-team SuperPrep All-America honors in 2007
  • Two-time first-team Associated Press all-state selection
  • Ranked seventh-best kicker nationally by and 19th-best kicker nationally by, Inc.
  • Lettered three years and was a team captain for the Warhawks
  • In 2008 (senior season), booted 8-of-11 field goals (no misses under 50 yards and a season-long 55-yarder) and 63-of-65 PAT's, and 70 of his 88 kickoffs resulted in touchbacks
  • Converted 65-of-66 PAT's and 6-of-11 FG's his junior year, while 71 of his 98 kickoffs went for touchbacks
  • Selected to play in Wisconsin's North-South All-Star game on July 18, 2009

College Stats:
2013: 23 of 25 (92.0%) FGs; 35 of 35 PATs; 104 points
2012: 19 of 20 (95.0%) FGs; 50 of 50 PATs; 107 points
2011: 6 of 10 (60.0%) FGs; 50 of 50 PATs; 68 points
2010: 0 of 0 (0%) FGs; 1 of 1 PATs; 1 point

Back in December, Budzien discussed the possibilities of a pro career:
"I'm hearing great stuff from agents and scouts; I think now it's just a wait and see game. I put some great seasons on film, and there are other kickers who have stronger legs than me, but if a team was in the market for a kicker that will make every field goal, I think I'm the No. 1 person on their board. It depends what a team needs, and it's something I'll find out....

I probably wouldn't say the top 32 kickers in the world are kicking for NFL teams. There are some great kickers that aren't (on a team). There's so much overlooking in (college recruiting), maybe because people are developing still in high school and aren't at their full physical peak. Then there's a coaching philosophy; some high-school coaches think they should go for it on every fourth down and not give the kicker a chance."

Friday, April 11, 2014

Draft Preview: Steven Clark

Among the punters eligible for this year's NFL draft, or signing as an undrafted free agent thereafter, is Auburn's Steven Clark. He ranks in the top five in the majority of the various draft rankings.

Excerpts from Clark's profile page on the Tigers' website:

2013 Senior Season
  • Ray Guy Award semifinalist for third straight season
  • AP All-SEC honorable mention ... ESPN, Scout all-bowl teams
  • had only five punts returned this season in 56 attempts... only 22 of 207 career punts have been returned (10.6%) for an average return of 5.4 yards
  • third in Auburn career punts (207) and fourth in punt yards (8,423)
  • 58-yard punt vs. Florida State in the BCS title game was season long and tied career best ... two punts downed at the Alabama one in that victory ... all three kicks in SEC Championship were inside the MU 8 ... five of six punts in BCS title game were downed inside 20, four inside the 10 ... averaged 43.2 yards per punt against Florida State
  • East-West Shrine Game
  • NFL Combine invitee
2012 Junior Season
  • Ray Guy Award semifinalist
  • only five of 70 punts were returned ... six punts of 50+ yards for season
  • long punt of 54 against LSU
2011 Sophomore Season
  • Ray Guy Award Finalist, Auburn's first in school history
  • Coaches' All-SEC First Team ... Pro Football Weekly First Team All-America ... Sports Illustrated Honorable Mention All-American
  • SEC Special Teams Player of the Week (10/3) ... SEC Special Teams Player of the Week (10/17) 
  • 33 punts inside the 20 led the SEC and was third in FBS
  • dropped nine punts inside the 10
  • two punts of 50+ yards vs. MSU, including career-long 58-yarder
  • against South Carolina earned SEC Special Teams Player of the Week honors punting seven times for an average of 37.9, including five punts inside the 20, all inside the 12-yard line, with two inside the 5-yard line
  • played a key role in the Tigers' win vs. USC -- a game dictated by field position -- as five of his last six punts were inside the 20 ... after Clark punts, USC's averaging starting field position was the USC 16, as its possessions started at the 38, 4, 1, 11, 12 and 12
  • SEC Special Teams Player of the Week after punting nine times in win over Florida, including two punts that were muffed by UF returners and recovered by Auburn
  • three punts for career-best average of 49.0 yards in Chick-fil-A Bowl win against Virginia
2010 Freshman Season
  • Appeared in five games 
  • against LSU, punted three times for a 37.3 yard average with one pinned inside the 20 ... also had a season-long punt of 42 yards
High School
  • No. 20-ranked placekicker by
  • No. 4-rated kicker by Inc. 
  • 2009 Class 5 First Team All-State selection at punter by the Missouri Football Coaches Association
  • also played tight end and defensive end in high school 
  • averaged nearly 40 yards per punt as a junior

College Stats:
2013: 56 punts, 42.6 yard average, long of 58 yards
2012: 70 punts, 39.8 yard average, long of 54 yards
2011: 72 punts, 40.8 yard average, long of 58 yards
2010: 9 punts, 34.9 yard average, long of 42 yards

Back in January, heading into the East-West Shrine game, Clark discussed his interaction with NFL scouts:
"They've been gathering a lot of information about us all week, every night. They've reached out to get information...personal questions and that type of stuff. They pretty much all asked us the same questions. Some are more detailed, some are more personal than others. Sometimes it's, 'What your best game? What's your worst game? What do you feel like you do well? What do you feel like you don't do well?'

I'm just trying to get better at my craft, trying to perfect it as much as I can between now and draft day. I hope I have opportunities to show what I can do. I know I have NFL potential and it's just a matter of being able to pull out the right cards and showing them what I can do.... But a lot of teams aren't willing to spend draft pick on a punter. So there are other opportunities to be invited to training camps or even sign right after the draft."