The path to making an NFL team as a free agent kicking specialist is a long a windy road. Approximately 18 months ago I started this journey with the help of Coach Bill Renner and I couldn't be happier with the results I have had on the field. After being away from competitive kicking for over two years I have dedicated myself to the goal of being PRO ready and I now feel I have achieved that goal.
Over the past two weeks I have placed in the top group of kickers at the NFL Super Regional Combine in Detroit and the Aguiar and Husted PRO Combine. The Aguiar and Husted Combine was last Thursday in Las Vegas in front of quite a few NFL Special Teams Coaches and was filled with some excellent competition of kickers, punters, and snappers.
Last week I got into Las Vegas a few days early and I noticed that it was a little windy, but little did I know that it would become such a factor in the competition just a few days later.
I worked hard to qualify for this Aguiar & Husted Combine back in January at their pre qualification camp. By having very impressive stats that day I was selected to kick in the first group on Thursday's PRO Day in front of the NFL coaches. The first group consisted of free agent kickers; Kenny Spencer, Clint Stitser, and Delbert Alvarado. All three of these kickers are NFL ready and so were quite a few other kickers in the next few groups.
I got to the field on Thursday and there were wind gusts of 18-22 MPH. I had spoken with Coach Renner the day before about the possibility of wind and asked him if I should change my swing to kick the ball lower and he said that he wouldn't change a thing. He explained to me that the NFL teams are looking for kicks of NFL height and distance and that I should show perform to that standard at all times.
I was able to perform well in the conditions and made 5 of 7 field goals in the competition. The challenge when kicking the ball at my natural kicking height is that the wind can move the ball quickly if you don't hit it solid and if you do hit it solid the ball will cut the wind. It is really a test on a kicker to trust his technique and make accurate decisions.
Of the two kicks I missed, I missed one because I didn't hit it solid enough and I missed another because I hit it perfect and it stayed straight. I had aimed the last missed kick outside the uprights after seeing the three previous kickers miss their kicks badly to the right. I finished the workout by hitting a 53 yard field goal and was one of only a handful of kickers to make that kick. It was a testament to my training to make that long of a kick and it gave me a lot of confidence to be successful in such adverse conditions.
After the field goal competition we had a brief wait to hit our kickoffs. There was a strong crosswind on the kickoffs and I was able to hit my kickoffs deep in the endzone but two of them didn't have the hang time I would have liked. I showed NFL leg strength and potential on all my kicks and I am pleased that I didn't let the conditions get the best of me.
Overall it has been a great experience going to the past two kicking combines. I have learned where I am in my technique and more about myself. I know that I have what it takes to kick in the NFL and now the next step is to get that opportunity.
Henry Hartman said it best "Success comes when opportunity meets preparation". I am certainly prepared and the next step is to get that opportunity! I hope to hear something after the upcoming NFL Draft and all I can do now is sit in the clubhouse and wait for that chance.