the study of the kicking components within sports

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Northwestern Wildcats Kicker, Punter & Snapper News

November 15, 2014 - Jack Mitchell kicks game winner over Notre Dame
"This moment, Mitchell realized, was his chance to silence the critics – not only those who never expected Northwestern could win for a second straight time in South Bend, but those who Fitzgerald said after Saturday night's dramatic 43-40 overtime win had jumped ship, no longer willing to hang on for what had already been a bumpy ride. With so much riding on one kick, Mitchell – whose field goal with 16 seconds remaining in regulation had forced overtime – zoned out the rest of the world, ignoring the noise that has surrounded Northwestern's program all season long. 'Just be calm,' Mitchell said up the tunnel from the end zone where his kick had sailed through the uprights while Notre Dame fans chanted, 'Block that kick.' That's all you can do'. Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly attempted to ice Mitchell, as if that was necessary with the temperature hovering around 27 degrees at the time Mitchell lined up for the game-winning kick. Before Kelly had motioned for the stoppage in play Mitchell had settled into his routine and was just calculating his steps when Kelly called for the timeout. As he had been taught in such situations, Mitchell followed through, pushing the practice kick wide left. As his teammates prepared for Mitchell's next and final attempt, the kicker – who admitted afterward that he knew little of the 1995 game that had put Northwestern on the football map – stepped away, again zoning out from everything going on around him. On the sidelines, Pat Fitzgerald knew to stay quiet – at least when it came to his kicker. 'When he got iced, he didn't come over and have a conversation and coffee and talk about world peace,' Fitzgerald said. On the field, Mitchell told himself to stay loose as his linemen discussed blocking schemes  As he waited to kick Northwestern to victory, Mitchell kept moving about, trying to keep as warm as possible. As the snap came back and the ball went down, Mitchell stepped into his kick, which started left and then bent right, sending the Northwestern sideline into pandemonium. As soon as he connected, sending the ball toward Touchdown Jesus, Mitchell knew for a fact it was good. He started running in the opposite direction. Senior quarterback Trevor Siemian, who had positioned himself on the far 40-yard line to give himself a clear view of the kick, watched the ball go into the air and with the kick about midway to its destination, Siemian ran onto the field, joining the purple and white celebration that spilled out onto the field as Notre Dame Stadium sat in stunned silence." - Chicago Football

November 12, 2014 - kicker Mason Weissenhofer commits
"Northwestern's special teams future got a little bit stronger on Wednesday night. The Wildcats received a verbal pledge from Montini (Ill.) Catholic kicker Mason Weissenhofer, who will join the team as a preferred walk-on. Weissenhofer is rated a five-star kicker and the 19th-best prospect in the nation by Chris Sailer, the kicking guru. His strong and consistent leg has been a key piece of Montini's success.... The Wildcats currently have walk-on Jack Mitchell serving as a kicker. However, he came to Northwestern as a baseball player and happened to join the football team. Weissenhofer has been recruited to Northwestern with the hopes that he can win over the starting job." - 247 Sports

September 22, 2014 - punter Chris Gradone gets scholarship and then weekly honors
"On Sept. 12, during NU’s bye week, junior punter Chris Gradone received some big news: He would be awarded an athletic scholarship for the 2014-15 year. 'I was ecstatic,' Gradone said. 'It was right before our bye, and I was planning on going home to surprise my mom. I came home, she was really surprised and then I told my parents I got the scholarship. It was a great moment.' Eight days later, Gradone — who earned the starting job late last season — had the best game of his college career, pinning the Leathernecks deep in Cats territory. For the performance, the junior was named Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week. Gradone said the scholarship helped his confidence entering the game against Western Illinois. 'I don’t know whether it directly carried over,' he said. 'But it was definitely a boost'." - Daily Northwestern

August 25, 2014 - summer specialists
"First depth chart of the 2014 season features a few mild surprises: The place-kicker will be walk-on Jack Mitchell, rather than Hunter Niswander, who was slowed in fall camp by an ankle injury. Mitchell started 21 games last season as an outfielder for NU’s baseball team, and NU coach Pat Fitzgerald said he made close to 80 percent during Camp Kenosha. The starting punter also is a walk-on, Chris Gradone. He averaged 37.8 per boot in four games late last season." - Chicago Tribune

April 23, 2014 - spring specialists
"There are going to be a lot of new faces on Northwestern’s special teams depth chart this year, especially in the kicking game. Hunter Niswander seems like the most likely choice to replace Jeff Budzien, while Chris Gradone is the obvious choice to step in for Brandon Williams, since Gradone replaced Williams in a couple games at the end of last year." - Inside Northwestern

March 30, 2014 - replacing Budzien
"In the past three years, only once has someone without the name “Budzien” on the back of his jersey kicked a field goal for the Wildcats. But NU’s new all-time leading scorer is graduating and taking with him the near-automatic kicking game that the Cats have become accustomed to for the past few years. None of the current kickers on the roster — true freshman Hunter Niswander, redshirt freshmen Matt Micucci and Jack Mitchell or sophomore Arthur Omilian — have any sort of college kicking experience." - Football Nation

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