Huskers Add a Kicker
Western Illinois Kicker Will Transfer to NU
One of the major challenges facing Nebraska in the 2013 season will be replacing all-conference kicker and punter Brett Maher. It appears the coaching staff has taken steps to create more competition for those duties. Western Illinois kicker and punter Pat Smith has told Husker Online's Sean Callahan that he is transferring to Nebraska. Smith will be entering his senior year. The Huskers have one other scholarship kicker on their roster. Mauro Bondi was a part of their 2011 recruiting class.
Smith appears to have been a productive kicker for the FBS division Leathernecks of Western Illinois. According to his official bio, he made all of his place kicks last season, with a career long of 46 yards. Smith averaged 38 yards on 84 punts last season. That punting average isn't spectacular, but he was able to uncork punts of more than 50 yards at different times throughout the year. It's unique for a player to transfer to a new school as they head in to their senior season. It doesn't appear that Smith will count against the Huskers' scholarship total next year. He is enrolled as a graduate student and will walk on to the football program.
There is a scholarship kicker on the Husker roster. Mauro Bondi was recruited in 2011 and served as the backup to Maher the last two seasons. He saw spot action as a freshman, appearing in four games. His work amounted to four kickoffs and one PAT, which he made. That's not a lot of work. So, fans know little of his ability to replace Maher.
Bottom line: the kicking and punting spots are wide open. Clearly there is an intent on the part of the coaches to create competition for those duties. Smith has a much larger body of work, albeit at a lower level of competition, while Bondi was worthy of a scholarship not too long ago and is entrenched in the Husker program. Either way, the effort to replace Maher will be crucial to the Huskers' success in 2013.