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.

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Comments 6 comments so far

Good to have more competition.

Don’t really see the relevance of lower level of competition with the kicking position.  Kickers aren’t going Mano-O-mano with anyone.  It only matters if they get it between the uprights.  Based upon last year Pat Smith had no problem doing just that.

Thanks, Tadedge.

I have also given that a considerable amount of thought. Hey - kicking is kicking, right? Fundamentally, it shouldn’t be so different.

But, here’s the rub - it’s not just the fundamentals. There is also the mental side of it. Pressure is real. What happens between the ears is often what helps put it between the uprights. And, there is considerably more pressure at NU than there was at Western Illinois.

Regardless, I’m personally glad to see them add Smith to the roster. Husker fans have been spoiled with Henery and Maher handling double duty the last several years. Replacing a combo kicker/punter is no small thing. All hands on deck!

Good point on the pressure.  Hopefully, experience plus maturity of being a senior will enable him to make that transition.

I’m more concerned about the punting.  I suspect that isn’t an area of strength for Bondi.  Perhaps the competition will help or maybe we will see the emergance of a walk-on punter.

It should be noted that Sam Foltz - a walk-on WR from Grand Island - is also a capable punter.

He was all-state as a punter in HS. And, generally, he is a very good athlete.

He’s going to be a part of the competition at that punting spot.

I have a feeling that they would like a separate punter and kicker to emerge.  I think there would be less pressure and less to worry about if you can focus on one type of kick.  It also eliminates a bad punt influencing a field goal try or vice versa.  I think we saw that with some inconsistency at times this past year.  The only way to accomplish that is more competition, so this is a welcome addition.  It will be interesting to see how this pans out as I think Bondi was brought in as a kicker and this guy appears to be a better kicker than punter.  Both positions are pretty critical though, especially when we have shoddy kick coverage.

Im guessing the coaching staff is confident that they can find a punter to do the job or they would have addressed it.. Smith dosnt address that need at all.. Like some one said above the Foltz kid can punt as well, if Bondi cant,  and Im guessing that some of the walk on pk/ punters should be able to add to that.. For that matter they might be trying to add another Walk on punter at the end..

Smith will push Bondi, which is a good thing, and theres always the possibility of spliting the duties between them.. Smith also give Bondi another year to hone in on his skills if needed..

Heres to hoping we have a legit Kicking battle next year!! GO BIG RED !!

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