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Hawkeye kickers must carry weight of expectations

[ 0 ] April 21, 2014 |
Former Iowa kicker Nate Kaeding went on to a Pro Bowl career with the San Diego Chargers

Former Iowa kicker Nate Kaeding went on to a Pro Bowl career with the San Diego Chargers

Kickers are a different breed.

A strong leg and thick skin help, but broad shoulders are a requirement.

That’s because whoever wins the job for Iowa will have to occasionally carry the hopes of an entire football program.

“Throughout the course of a three- or four-month season in the Big Ten, the pressure is always going to be kind of lingering over your head,” former Hawkeye kicker Nate Kaeding said. “At least for me, and I know for a majority of the kickers out there, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, that’s the only thing you’re thinking about, the game coming up Saturday.”

Kaeding set the standard for Iowa, hitting 67 of 84 field-goal attempts (79.8 percent) from 2000-03 and earning all-America honors.

Mike Meyer was a reliable performer from 2010-13, converting 61 of 80 field goals (76.3 percent), before completing his college career last season.

Now the Hawkeyes are trying to fill a void.

Marshall Koehn is listed atop the depth chart, followed by Alden Haffar. Mick Ellis, a freshman from Texas, could figure into the mix this fall.

“For these guys competing, they do know these practices are treated like a game,” Kaeding said. “They’ve got to prepare accordingly for it. They know that they’ll be getting critiqued and evaluated every time their foot hits the ball.”

Kaeding offers a been-there, done-that perspective.

He became a starter as a freshman, endured early inconsistencies, then broke through with a four-field goal performance at Penn State, helping the Hawkeyes beat the Nittany Lions 26-23 in overtime, on Nov. 4, 2000.

“I think they’re going to be better prepared,” Kaeding said of the current candidates. “Because coach (Kirk) Ferentz and (special teams) coach (Chris) White and everybody there is going to do a really good job of putting them in some pressure situations, game-like situations.”

Of course, it’s difficult to replicate the real thing.

“I came in playing at (Iowa City) West High in front of 1,000 people and our first game was at Arrowhead Stadium, and then Kinnick Stadium after that,” Kaeding recalled. “There is some trial by fire for sure, but the ones who are able to get through that, kind of learn how your mind and your emotions react, then figure out a way to calm yourself down and handle that pressure … Those are the ones who ride some of those lulls and some of that adversity.”

Kaeding sees positive traits in Koehn, a junior from Solon.

“I’ve known Marshall for a long time,” Kaeding said. “I worked with him even as he was coming up through high school and then kept in contact with him since he’s been at Iowa.

“He’s an outstanding athlete, multiple-sport athlete.”

Koehn was a four-year letter winner in baseball and soccer, plus two years as a wrestler.

It’s a resume that might remind some of Kaeding, who was a basketball and soccer star at West.

“(Koehn) might be faster than some of the receivers and defensive backs,” Kaeding said. “Nothing against them, (but) he’s got some great speed and strength and agility.

“I think some of the intangible things are really going to serve him well once the season gets rocking and rolling,” Kaeding added. “Because nobody is perfect. You’re going to have a few of those misses, and he’s a tough kid.

“He’ll be able to fight through it.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Andrew Logue: Andrew has been with the Des Moines Register for 19 years, covering everything from preps to Hawkeye and Cyclone sports, as well as the Drake Relays. View author profile.

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