Former Hawkeye and West High kicker Nate Kaeding has had an interesting 24 hours.
The Pro Bowl kicker got on a red-eye flight Thursday night in San Diego and without much sleep tried out for the Miami Dolphins on Friday morning.
The Dolphins signed Kaeding later in the day.
“It’s a little crazy around the holidays, leaving three kids behind,” Kaeding said Friday afternoon. “But it’s a neat opportunity for me.”
Kaeding has been a free agent since being released from injured reserve by the San Diego Chargers on Oct. 30.
Kaeding said he’s worked out for several teams, including Carolina and San Francisco, and had interest from Chicago and Cincinnati, but didn’t see the long-term potential he did in Miami.
Miami’s current kicker, Dan Carpenter, is on injured reserve with a groin injury. He was 22-of-27 this season and is signed through 2013.
Kaeding, a Pro Bowl kicker who is the most accurate field-goal kicker in NFL history at 87 percent (180-of-207), was 7-of-7 in three games this season before his groin injury.
“He has demonstrated a record of success as a kicker in this league,” Miami coach Joe Philbin said. “He’s a hard worker. He’s a true professional, and I’m sure he’ll do a great job for us.”
Philbin was the offensive line coach at Iowa when Kaeding was an All-American kicker for the Hawkeyes. Kaeding said it was fun to see him, and also former Iowa offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe, now the Dolphins’ receiver coach.
“He had a hand in recruiting me at West High,” Kaeding said of O’Keefe. “Now we’re sitting on the same team in Miami. It’s funny how things work out sometimes.”
Kaeding said he doesn’t like relocating away from his family during the holidays. The Dolphins (6-8) host Buffalo on Sunday and close the season at New England.
So for now it is hotel living for the former Trojan until the season is over. But Kaeding was excited to get back to work after being unemployed for nearly two months.
“There’s not as much peace of mind as being somewhere,” Kaeding said of free agent life. “It worked out and it’s great to be around familiar faces.”
Kaeding said he was getting a hair cut Thursday afternoon when he found out about the opportunity. He got on the earliest flight he could, arrived in Miami at 7 a.m. local time, took a physical and kicked for the coaches and general manager at 10 a.m.
He then joined the Dolphins for practice at 10:45 a.m.
“A big attraction was the Iowa connection,” Kaeding said. “I knew those guys pretty well.”
Kaeding said it was fun to catch up with O’Keefe, a friend of the family. He had not seen him since O’Keefe accepted the job offer from Philbin in January.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Ryan Suchomel can be reached at email@example.com or 339-7368.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football