Emphasizing ‘A Natural Style of Kicking and Punting’®, Coach Zauner’s teaching philosophy facilitates an environment where kicking specialists develop the skills, technique, and confidence to achieve their maximum physical and mental potential. At an amateur and professional level, Coach Zauner, LLC programs and events provide a kicker, punter or snapper ‘A Specialist’s Path to PRO Football'®...Coach Zauner, LLC Mission Statement

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Chris Gould One on One

On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week Chris Gould was in Phoenix, Arizona for some One on One Kicking Lessons.


A couple of months ago Robbie Gould (Chicago Bears Kicker) called me and asked if he could send his younger brother (Chris) down to Arizona for some One on One Kicking Lessons.

When I was the Special Teams Coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens we signed Robbie Gould to our practice squad for about 3 or 4 weeks. During the time we worked together I could see that he was a very talented kicker.

The problem was the NFL's 80 man roster rule. We had to make some roster decisions and we ended up having to release Robbie rather than develop him. At that time Matt Stover was kicking at a very high level and Robbie was released.

It was bad news back then but good news weeks later when Robbie worked out for the Chicago Bears and was signed and became their starting kicker. He went to the Pro Bowl two years later and is now entrenched as the Bears kicker.

After working two days with Chris Gould I can see he has the potential to also be an excellent kicker.

Chris had a couple of minor flaws in his technique. After watching him kick and reviewing the video I introduced a couple of drills to get Chris to kick more up and through the ball.

After working a couple of drills, Chris could feel and see some positive results.

After two days of One on One Kicking Lessons Chris was kicking up and through the ball much better and was kicking the ball with much better consistency. I told Chris to go back home and work the drills and practice for two to three weeks and give me a call.

It was a pleasure meeting and working with Chris and I wish him the best of luck in the future. Chris would like to come back to my Free Agent Combine March 27 - 28. If he keeps improving and becomes more consistent he should have no problem qualifying for the event.



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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Australian Workout & Fox News

On Monday Coach Zauner was in Melbourne, Australia doing an open workout with six Australian's who all had some type of Aussie Rules Football background. Steve Baker was the only participant that actually had some Australian Gridiron Football background.

All the punters wanted me to evaluate them and let them know if they had enough punting talent or what they needed to do to get better and have a chance to get an NFL tryout.

Other Aussie Rules players like Darren Bennett (Chargers and Vikings), Sav Rocca (Eagles) and Ben Graham (Cardinals) all had massive legs and made the transition from Aussie Rules Football (Footy) to the NFL.

The answer after Monday's workout was 'No'. However, two punters Steve Baker and Courtney Johns did show some definite potential. Both Steve and Courtney have very good leg strength and hit some great punts. However, the key to both of these punters success will be consistency. That starts with a better drop.

Once a punter with a big leg has a better drop and starts hitting the ball with more consistency then you can really tell what his potential will be in regards to getting a college scholarship, NFL tryout or contract.

When and if they become more consistent the next factor will be how they compete and perform under pressure. The pressure of a tryout or Free Agent Combine like I have in Phoenix, Arizona in front of many NFL Special Teams Coaches, Scouts and Personnel Directors and competing against other talented American Punters.

On Monday I started the open workout with everyone understanding the difference with the Aussie Rules Drop Punt and the American (NFL) Punters nose down drop. In the first photo below I huddle all the punters and showed them photos of many of the NFL punters and their grip, drop, contact, and follow-through when they hit their best punts.

Next I let the punters show me their talent level.

After I saw their talent level I worked on basic fundamentals. In about two hours I tried to give them some basic fundamentals and drills to help them all improve their technique.

The bottom line, after two hours of evaluation, drills and practice Steve and Courtney had the most potential.

In the next two days I had One on One sessions with both and saw even more potential.

Enjoy the photos and video interview below:



Coach showing photos of NFL punters fundamentals and techniques


Courtney Johns showed some excellent potential

Steve Baker hits a 5.0 second hang time punt



Punters working Goal Post Drill




Aussie's with Coach Zauner



It was great meeting all the punters and working with them. The young Aussie's as a nation definitely have much better foot skills than the high school and college players back in the US.

I wish Steve and Courtney the best of luck in taking their games to the next level.

Click below to watch and listen to Dan Jones (Fox Sports News Australia) interview Coach Zauner about Aussie punters and their 'Path to the NFL'.



video


Thanks to Dan Jones (Fox Sports News) for doing this excellent video on the Aussie's Down Under.


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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Justin Kahut PAC 10 Player of Week

I would like to congratulate Justin Kahut for a standout season at Oregon State University. Justin came for some One on One Kicking Lessons with his friend Jake Weber (Portland State) this past off season. To read the rest of the article. Click

Oregon State University junior placekicker Justin Kahut has been named the final Pac-10 Conference Special Teams Player of the Week for the season after his performance in last Thursday’s game at Oregon.

Kahut, a junior from Portland, was perfect on four field goal attempts and three point-after-touchdown kicks for 15 points in the Beavers’ 37-33 loss to Oregon. He made field goals of 28, 29, 40 and 45 yards.

Kahut was also named the Special Teams Player of the Week for his 4-for-4 outing against UCLA Oct. 31.

For the season Kahut has made 22 of 27 (81 percent) of his field goal attempts, and is just one short of Alexis Serna’s school record total in 2005

Congrats again and good luck in the Las Vegas Bowl game against BYU.




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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Australian Radio Interview

On Friday night a did a interview with 1116 SEN a sports talk show. The producer Tristan Foenander had seen an article in the Melbourne Sun Herold and asked if they could call and do an interview with me about Aussie Rules Football Players trying to make it in the NFL


Coach working with Aussie Rules Player Courtney Johns



Coach working with Aussie Player Michael Harrington

Click to listen to a 15 minute Radio Interview with Australian Sports talk 1116 SEN Melbourne. The Topic is Aussie Rules Football Players trying to make it into the NFL.


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Drew Butler 'Ray Guy' Award

Good new travels fast, even when your in Melbourne, Australia. Today I received great news on two 'punting' fronts.

First, Sports Illustrated informed me the feature 'Punting' article that I was interviewed a few months ago for, was going to publication and would be on the news stands next week.

From what I understand, the article, written by John Ed Bradley is going to be the first 'full length feature' article on Punting that Sports Illustrated has done in over 30 years.

It will be great to see 'punting' back in the spotlight of one of the most popular sports magazines in the world.

Soon after I received the news about the Sports Illustrated article, my wife informed me that University of Georgia sophomore punter, Drew Butler had just won the 2009 Ray Guy Award.

This Spring Drew came to Scottsdale, Arizona for some One on One Punting Lessons. Then in late June, he came to work out with me at my PRO Development Camp in St. Paul, MN.

Drew Butler Punts while father Kevin watches


At his One on One Lessons I told Drew that if he kept working his drills, then without question he had the talent to 'play on Sundays'.

He looked at me and said, "Do you really think I have that kind of talent?"

I said "Yes I do!"

And now Drew is answering his own question.

Congratulations to Drew Butler on winning the prestigious Ray Guy Award.

You earned it.




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Saturday, November 28, 2009

2010 College Senior Combine

COACH ZAUNER’S 2010
COLLEGE SENIOR SPECIALIST'S COMBINE
- A SPECIALIST'S PATH TO PRO FOOTBALL -

If you are a College Senior Kicking Specialist and have aspirations for kicking, punting or snapping in the NFL, your path should start with Coach Zauner's College Senior Specialist's Combine being held February 20-21 Phoenix, Arizona.

This 2-day event is designed for the Top College Senior Kickers, Punters, Snappers or utility players that also snap who 'WILL NOT' be invited to the NFL Combine February 24 thru March 2 in Indianapolis.

It is against NFL rules to have any NFL coach or scout at an event like this, so following this College Senior Specialists NFL Combine, video of the best potential NFL prospects will be posted to my website (unless a participant makes a request to not have their video posted).

In addition, I will personally take a DVD which includes information and highlight video of the top specialists who have the potential to make it to the NFL, and ‘hand deliver’ it to the NFL Special Teams Coaches, and Directors of Pro or College Personnel who will be attending the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

In 2008 I spent five days at the NFL Combine and talked to a representative from every NFL team. I plan to do the same this year.

These kicking specialists will also be featured on a special College Senior Specialists Combine section on my website along with the other 2010 NFL draft prospects.
Also, every participant will receive a DVD copy of their performance.


WHY A COLLEGE SENIOR SPECIALIST'S COMBINE?


I am hosting a College Senior Specialist's Combine because it is my experience that the best kicking specialist talent is not seen at their College Pro Days or showcased at the NFL Combine.

An example of this is when I attended the NFL Combine in 2008.

Once at the event, I was immediately struck by the lack of quality kicking specialist’s talent that had been invited. And when the NFL Combine was over, I left thinking about all the quality kicking specialist talent available throughout the country that should have been invited but were not.

In fact that Spring I was working and training two kicking specialists who I believed had much more talent than anyone I had seen at the NFL Combine; Punter Brett Kern (U. of Toledo) and Kicker Garrett Hartley (U. of Oklahoma).

And the 2008 NFL season proved this to be true.

During that season, the Denver Broncos called and asked me to find them a young punter and kicker. I recommended both specialists and the Broncos signed both Kern and Hartley to Free Agent Contracts.

Kern made the team and Hartley was released before training camp due to 80 man roster rule. Hartley later signed with the New Orleans Saints and played 8 games in which he was a perfect 13 for 13 in the 2008 season.

Today, both are still on NFL rosters.

And they weren’t the only kicking specialists who were not invited to the NFL Combine but were signed to the NFL that year. In fact six kicking specialists who were not invited to the NFL Combine were either drafted or signed as Free Agents and made NFL rosters.

And it’s important to note that only two kicking specialists invited to the 2008 NFL Combine made an NFL roster that year! And neither made it through the season or is playing today.

I don’t know why so much kicking specialist talent is overlooked and therefore not invited to the NFL Combine, but perhaps it is because there is a general lack of knowledge of what qualities, technique and personality it takes to be an NFL Kicking Specialist.

It seems often times a players ability is determined on ‘kicking distance’ or a 'stop watch' reading rather than on a kicking specialists skills and technique.

Regardless the reason, many excellent kicking specialists never get invited to the NFL Combine and therefore never get drafted or signed to the NFL.

I have attended the NFL Combine for the past 18 years and I am very familiar with the quality of talent showcased there. It is my opinion that the ‘top’ College Senior kicking talent has not been invited to the NFL Combine. There is no 'consistency' in the talent represented from year to year. Therefore NFL teams have not seen the best kicking specialists available.

The other issue that is troubling is many college seniors kicking specialists expect to be seen on their ‘Pro Day' by NFL Special Teams Coaches and Scouts. But the fact is, that does not always happen.

The big universities with the most NFL potential football players will have a big Pro Day, but far too often, many college seniors kicking specialists will have no NFL Special Teams Coaches or Scouts at their workout either because the scout needed to get to the next College ‘Pro Day” -and didn't have time to look at the kicking specialists - or no scout showed up at all.

My College Senior Kicking Specialist's Combine is designed to ensure the best college kicking specialist talent at all divisions of college football, are not overlooked by NFL teams just because they weren’t invited to the NFL Combine or were not seen at their College Pro Days.

It is my goal to make sure the best kicking specialist talent IS seen by NFL Special Teams and Directors of Pro or College Personnel, so these specialists also have a chance to be drafted or signed as a NFL free agent.

My background and experience have shown I can make this happen for College Seniors.


IN SUMMARY:
WHY A COLLEGE SENIOR SPECIALISTS COMBINE


1) Participants will be able to showcase their Ability to Coach Zauner and results seen by NFL teams.

2) Participants will be competing against other Top College Senior Specialists and have an opportunity to evaluate their standing amongst other draft eligible players.

3) Participants will have an excellent opportunity to evaluate their ability and potential to be an NFL kicking specialists.

MY BACKGROUND:

During my career as an 11 years as a college coach and 13 years as an NFL Special Teams Coordinator I have coached or trained 19 Pro Bowl kickers, punters and snappers and have worked with over 75 NFL kicking specialists.


RESULTS OF MY 2009 FREE AGENT COMBINE


In April of 2009 I held my first Free Agent Specialist's Combine in Phoenix, Arizona. It was considered a success by both the teams and the specialists who attended.

In attendance were 32 professional football teams representing 26 National Football League (NFL) teams; 4 United Football League (UFL) teams; and 2 Canadian Football League (CFL) teams.

The event showcased 41 kicking specialists including 16 kickers; 15 punters; and 10 snappers / utility players. Of these, 17 signed contracts with NFL, UFL or CFL Teams.


COACH ZAUNER'S ABILITY TO EVALUATE TALENT


Brian Billick, former Head Coach of the Baltimore Ravens said, “I’ve known and coached with Gary for 28 years! As a College and NFL Head Coach I have seen him not only find kicking personnel but also coach and develop many kicking specialists to be more consistent! He is the best when it comes to finding, evaluating, analyzing and coaching kicking specialists. Gary Zauner is the best in the business!”

Frank Gilliam, former, Minnesota Vikings Vice President Player Personnel said,
“Gary was responsible for targeting, evaluating and signing many of our kicking personnel. His knowledge and evaluations of kicking personnel were in-valuable to myself and my scouting staff especially when it came to free agency and the draft. I’ve been in the NFL with the Vikings for 36 years and nobody knows kicking personnel and how to coach them better than Gary!”

Bill Polian, President Indianapolis Colts said, “With regards to Coach Zauner’s Free Agent Specialists and College Senior Combines being a ‘clearing house’ for NFL teams’ Coach Zauner has demonstrated he has a reputation for evaluating and finding kicking specialist talent of NFL caliber. His Combines certainly have the potential to discover or rediscover quality kicking specialist talent that might otherwise go unnoticed by Professional Football Teams”



2009 FREE AGENT COMBINE TESTIMONIALS


Bobby DePaul, Senior Director of Pro Personnel for the Chicago Bears said, "This was the best run Free Agent Combine I have participated in during my 21 years working as a coach or scout in the NFL. This effort clearly demonstrated that Coach Zauner has the knowledge needed to run an efficient Combine and effectively evaluate specialists. I will be looking forward to an expanded field of specialists next year."

Jim Fassel, Former Head Coach N.Y. Giants & Current Head Coach Las Vegas UFL Team said, “Recently my UFL staff attended Coach Zauner’s Free Agent Specialists Combine in Phoenix, Arizona. Me and my staff have participated in many free agent Combines throughout the years searching for football talent and all agreed this was the best run Combine any of us have attended. The field of talent was handpicked and of the highest caliber. This is 'the' Kicking Combine to attend if you’re a professional football team or aspiring kicking specialist.”

Joe Marciano, Houston Texans Special Teams Coordinator said, "Coach Zauner has coached in the NFL as a Special Teams Coordinator for 13 years. Coach Zauner knows the standards that NFL Special Teams Coaches want and need of their kicking specialist's. His Combine was run extremely efficiently for the coaches, Pro Personnel and players. I believe if you're an NFL Special Teams Coach, Director of Personnel or kicking specialist, Coach Zauner's Combine is 'the' event to attend.”

Russ Purnell, Special Teams Coordinator Jacksonville Jaguars said, “Gary put together a highly organized, efficient and competitive NFL Free Agent Specialists camp that featured very realistic skills tests and top level participants...it was as good a camp as I have been to”.

Ray Rychleski, Special Teams Coordinator Indianapolis Colts said, “As a coach I can really appreciate how well and precise the entire event was run. Many of the other special teams coaches and personnel people in the stands who have gone to other combines remarked that this was the best run free agent camp they had gone to and will be back again next year. Coming from the college coaching ranks I would think any college or free agent kicking specialists that wants to get exposure to the NFL should make Coach Zauner’s combine a must to attend."


TESTIMONIAL FROM HALL OF FAME NOMINEE


Gary Anderson, a 23 Year NFL Kicker - 1998 Pro Bowl & Perfect Season said, “I had the privilege of working with Coach Gary Zauner for 5 Years while playing for the Minnesota Vikings. Gary is easily the most knowledgeable kicking coach in the country. His approach of blending all the Technical aspects of kicking with a practical common sense approach, is one of Gary’s finest qualities. He can improve any kicker in a very short period of time and put you on a precise road to success. He is simply the Very Best”


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Rob Maver Top Canadian P & PK

Brief Clips from Rob Maver's Career:



Rob Maver 3rd Yr - Don Cameron Award

(Most Improved)


Rob Maver has gone from second team all-star punter in his first year to being an OUA and CIS all-star in both punting and kicking. This season he was named OUA first team all-star punter and place kicker, first team all-Canadian punter and second team all-Canadian place kicker. Rob's punting average of 46.1 yards was the highest in the CIS this season and the second highest in CIS history.

Rob Maver (K/P, Guelph): Maver's punting average of 46.1 would've tied him for fourth in the CFL last year, and he also made a very respectable 78% of his field goal attempts. Regular sessions in Arizona this summer with kicking guru Gary Zauner will have him well prepared for the pro game.

Guelph Kicker Rob Maver is the CIS active leader in both career field goals (54) and points (269). Currently sitting in eighth position on the all-time field goal list, the Brampton, Ont., native is one short of Saskatchewan’s Dave Osiowy, two behind StFX’s Jadran Mlinarevic and five short of McMaster’s Michael Ray, who sits in fifth place.

Rob Maver (Brampton) of the Guelph Gryphons is a first-team all-star punter and place kicker, leading OUA with a 92.9 percent accuracy in field goals as well as a league-leading 41.3 yard average in punts.

Article on Rob Maver:

Pro dream alive and kicking for Gryphons kicker
'Football is my life now,' he says; Guelph dominates over U of T in 53-25 victory
Published On Sat Sep 19 2009

Rob Maver knows all too well that pro scouts are watching what he does every time he steps on a football field.

That's what happens when you're the most respected punter and placekicker these days in the Canadian university game.

An All-Canadian in both positions, Maver is also the all-time leading scorer in football at the University of Guelph, and a record holder in at least four other categories.

He continued his dominance last night as his Gryphons defeated the University of Toronto 53-25. Maver accounted for 12 of those points – including field goals from 24 and 23 yards.

Soon to graduate with a political science degree, the 23-year old Maver is also looking at his next step: playing professionally.

The CFL's amateur scouting bureau pegged him among the top 15 university players this season in a report released a few days ago and he's the top pointgetter in the CIS with 33 in two games.

Maver is well aware that football is what has kept him in school.

"Hard to believe, but it's true," said the 6-foot, 200-pounder.

"I was a terrible student in high school, just did what I had to get by. If it weren't for football, I wouldn't be in university. Football is my life now and I'm doing whatever I can to play pro."

Guelph head coach Kyle Walters projects the three-time OUA all-star could go in the first round in the 2010 CFL draft.

"He's getting lots of interest because where else do you get two for one – a quality Canadian punter and placekicker," said Walters.

Perfect in field goals, his furthest this season from 32 yards, Maver has also converted 12 consecutive touchdowns and leads the OUA in punting with a 44.5-yard average. Only Alberta's Hugh O'Neill, averaging 48.1 yards, is better in the country.

Maver's longest field goal was 47 yards in a game two years ago, but he's connected at practice from 64 yards. This year, he had a 70-yard punt against York.

"I want to be perfect on every play and I'm being very picky because to stand a chance at playing pro you have to be that good," said Maver.

Several CFL teams have already been talking with Maver and he has contacted several professional kickers for advice – Montreal's Damon Duval, Sandro DeAngelis of Calgary and Luca Congi from Saskatchewan. He's also chatted with former Argos Noel Prefontaine and Lance Chomyc.

But getting to the next level may be a challenge according to Miles Gorrell, the Argos director of Canadian Scouting.

"I've seen him punt and kick, he is a darn good kicker and has an opportunity to make it but there is lots of competition," said Gorrell.

Coach Zauner's Comments:

I met Rob Maver this past summer when he attended both my PRO Development Camp in St. Paul, Minnesota and also worked my River Falls, Kicking Camp in River Falls, Wisconsin.

I could tell immediately that Rob had a strong leg and would be a potential NFL or CFL kicking specialist.

After a week of working two camps with Rob he decided to make an appointment to come to Scottsdale, Arizona for both some One on One Punting and Kicking Lessons.

During the three days of One on One Instruction I really saw marked improvement in his technique and consistency. As Rob worked several drills during the day and also at night back at the hotel he started punting and kicking with more consistency.

Rob came to Arizona on a mission to get better so he can have a shot at playing in the NFL.

Rob knows to achieve his goal he needs to be the best he can be. When he left he was not only better but knows exactly where he needs to be to be an NFL punter.

If Rob stays up in Canada he will be a top pick in Canada's draft because of his ability to both punt and kick. There are not many punter / kicker combination kicking specialists in Canada or the United States that have the leg and technique that Rob Maver has.

It was a pleasure meeting and working with Rob and I wish him the best of luck in this years draft.



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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Billy Cundiff Back in NFL

Last summer I received a call from Billy Cundiff and he wanted another set of eyes to take a look at his kicking technique. His agent, Paul Sheehy and I had talked several times about other clients but I kept asking about Billy. I suggested through my coaching technique of A Natural Style of Kicking and Punting we could achieve success of getting Billy back in the NFL.

Billy by any one's standard has an excellent kicking leg.

A matter of fact Billy finally decided to attend my 1st Annual Coach Zauner Free Agent Specialists Combine in Phoenix, Arizona and had a very good day. Several NFL Coaches asked me after they saw Billy kickoff and kick field goals why this guy (Billy) was not on an NFL roster.

In my mind Billy was the 'Best of the Best' at my combine and deserved to be at least signed and in camp with one of the 32 NFL teams.

Later in the summer after mini camps and most of training camps when the NFL has seen the new crop of College and free agent kickers I received calls from a couple of NFL teams asking who was the best kicker I had available. I kept saying Billy Cundiff. Most teams wanted a rookie because of the salary cap.

A side note to this story. After my 2009 free agent camp in April Dennis Green former Head Coach of the Minnesota Viking and Arizona Cardinals called and asked who was the best kicker he could sign for his new UFL California Redwoods team. I said Billy Cundiff.

Later in the summer I was asked by my former Head Coach Dennis Green to join his staff as his Special Teams Coordinator.

In July and August Billy and I talked a couple times about his plans for the upcoming season. He mentioned that he realized that after being away from the NFL for a couple seasons he needed to kick for someone, some place. If no one was going to give him another chance in the NFL then he was going to kick in the UFL for the team that drafted him, which was the California Redwoods.

In August the now former General Manager of the Cleveland Browns, George Kokinis (who I worked with at Baltimore Ravens) called and asked me the same question, who is the best kicker available. But now he wanted the best kicker not the youngest or cheapest. I still gave him the same answer, Billy Cundiff. Once the regular NFL season started Billy was signed by the Browns because of an injury to Phil Dawson.

Billy went to Cleveland and in several games was 6 for 6 (100%) on his field goals. Matter of fact he and Joshua Cribbs (Pro Bowl Return Specialists) were the only options for the Cleveland Browns to score.


Once Phil Dawson was healthy Billy was release. For a couple of weeks Billy was back in Phoenix, Arizona staying in shape and waiting for his next call.

Billy had shown the NFL he was back kicking well and was now back in the game and on the merry-go-round! All he needed now was another team to give him a chance where he could be the #1 guy. Two weeks ago Billy had a tryout with Baltimore Ravens along with Mike Nugent. The word I heard on the streets is that if the Ravens were going to make a change they were going to go with Billy Cundiff.

Billy Cundiff was signed and played in his first game this past Sunday. Billy was 5 for 6 on field goal attempts in his first game with the Baltimore Ravens.

In the little time I have worked with Billy, I noticed that he is not only a nice guy but a hard working professional. I wish him the best of luck in the future. "Go Ravens!"

Click below to listen to Billy Cundiff's Testimonial on working with Coach Zauner:



video





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Monday, November 23, 2009

Three Ray Guy Finalists

Coach Zauner Working One on One Punting Lessons with Drew Butler

Finalists Announced for 2009
Ray Guy Award

Augusta, GA (November 23, 2009) - The Augusta Sports Council announced today the finalists for the 2009 Ray Guy Award for top collegiate punter. The three athletes were selected by a national voting body of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) coaches, sports information directors, national media, and former Ray Guy Award winners. The voters will cast a second round of ballots to decide the winner.

This year’s finalists are (in alphabetical order):


Drew Butler (So.) Georgia
Currently leads the NCAA in gross punting average, as the Georgia Bulldogs lead in team net punting. Named midseason All America first team selection by Sporting News and Phil Steele. Had a long punt of 75-yards against Oklahoma State.

Chas Henry (Jr.) Florida
The Week 10 SEC Special Teams Player of the Week has led the Gators to a third-place NCAA ranking in team net punting. Has dropped 12 punts inside the 20-yard line and has 6 punts of 50-yards or more.

Zoltan Mesko (Sr.) Michigan
The 2009 preseason first team All American has led the Michigan Wolverines a second-place standing in team net average. The four-year starter is Michigan’s all-time career leader in both punts and punting yardage.

Ray Guy Award voters evaluated the punters on their overall statistics and contribution to the team. Particular emphasis was placed on the following statistics: net average, percentage of total punts inside the 20-yard line, and percentage of punts not returned. Georgia, Michigan, and Florida currently lead the NCAA in net punting.

The winner of the 10th Ray Guy Award will be announced live on ESPN during the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards show on Thursday, December 10. The winner will again be honored at the CSRA All Area Football Banquet at the Augusta Marriott Hotel and Suites on January 14, 2010.

About the Ray Guy Award:
The Augusta Sports Council created the Ray Guy Award in 2000 to honor Thomson, Georgia-native, College Football Hall of Fame inductee, and arguably football’s greatest punter, Ray Guy. The RGA selection committee evaluates the nominees overall statistics and contribution to their team to identify the semi-finalists. Finalists and the winner are selected by the national voting body.

About the Augusta Sports Council
The Augusta Sports Council (ASC) is a 501-c-3 non-profit organization, established in 1992 to market the Augusta-area as a major amateur sports destination. Annually, the Augusta Sports Council attracts, supports, and manages numerous competitions and activities for all levels of participation.

About the National College Football Awards Association
The Ray Guy Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA). The NCFAA was founded in 1997 as a coalition of the major collegiate football awards to protect, preserve and enhance the integrity, influence and prestige of the game’s predominant awards. The NCFAA encourages professionalism and the highest standards for the administration of its member awards and the selection of their candidates and recipients. http://www.fcfaa.org/


Coach Zauner with Drew Butler & Kevin Butler

Click here to listen to Kevin Butler's Testimonial about his son Drew working with Coach Zauner.



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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Paul Ernster One on One Lesson

On Sunday and Monday of this week I worked with Paul Ernster a veteran NFL free agent punter and kicker. Paul who lives here in Glendale, Arizona had heard about me through a couple of veteran NFL punters and kickers.

Paul who is a big legged kicking specialist graduated from Northern Arizona University has been with the Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Paul has had some negative experiences with coaches or kicking consultants who 'think' they are knowledgeable with kicking or punting technique. However, Paul never really felt comfortable doing what the coaches asked him to do.

Paul after experiencing a couple of philosophical coaching experiences with regard to his punting technique decided to take some time off trying to decide in what direction he wanted to go with his punting technique.

After watching and listening to him in the first lesson I really felt for this young man. While I was a special teams coach in the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals I watched Paul in a pre-game warm up when he was a punter with the Denver Broncos and noticed that this young man had a big leg.

In the last couple of years he has been with a couple of NFL teams in pre and regular season. Recently the workouts and tryouts have not been coming his way.

He like many kicking specialists his age must make some tough decisions. Do I keep working out and trying to get with an NFL teams or do I start a new career and move on with my life.

After working with Paul for two days I would suggest that he works on what he learned in the past two days and see how much he improves in the next month and then make a decision.

During our two days of punting Paul made some excellent improvement. In the first lesson I noticed that he had a nose up drop. See Photo below.

After the first day of One on One Punting Lessons we went and reviewed his video and he noticed he had changed a couple of things in his technique that he didn't even know he had changed.

In the second day of One on One Lessons I introduced Paul to my drop progression and One Step Drills. Paul was a quick study and improved quickly. He started to smile knowing that he was on the right track back to his old form coming out of college.


Paul has acquired some bad muscle memory during the past couple of years only because he has tried to do what some NFL special teams coaches have tried to make him do.

Like many punters and kickers that have come to me and told me what they have been taught or coached to do by several NFL special teams coaches I really question the quality of coaching specialists in the NFL.

Most NFL special teams coaches are excellent coaching coverage and return schemes but I question what their philosophy is on coaching kicking specialists.

In the last year I have had at least 15 to 20 really good free agent or veteran kickers or punters come to Scottsdale, Arizona for some One on One Lessons and tell me some unbelievable stories on what some coaches or kicking consultants are teaching their specialists in mini and training camps.


Click below to listen to Paul Ernster's Testimonial about working with Coach Zauner.



video

It was a real pleasure meeting and working with Paul and I wish him the best of luck getting back into the league and being the starting punter from one of the NFL teams.



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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Syracuse PK Ryan Lichtenstein

with
Ryan Lichtenstein



Lichtenstein returns to Heinz Field

by Michael Love
Sports Editor
November 5, 2009


Ryan Lichtenstein has kicked at Heinz Field each of the past two football seasons.

In 2007 and 2008, he booted footballs for Gateway in the WPIAL Quad-A title game.

On Saturday, Lichtenstein returns to Heinz Field, this time at the collegiate level.


The Orange true freshman hopes to get a couple of opportunities to put points on the board as Syracuse plays the Pitt Panthers.

Kickoff is set for noon and Lichtenstein expects to have a lot of family and friends in the stands.

Older brother Matt, a former Gateway kicker and a senior at Princeton, is on fall break this weekend and will be at Heinz Field to watch the game.

"It definitely will be cool playing in front of family like that on Saturday," Ryan Lichtenstein said.

"Growing up in Pittsburgh, the chance to play at a place like Heinz Field was amazing. Having already played there twice, the awe is kind of no longer there."

Lichtenstein walked on to the Syracuse football team over the summer, hoping to make his mark wherever he could.

He was thrust into the starting place-kicking job when scholarship player Shane Raupers, another true freshman, left the team and left Lichtenstein as the No. 1 place kicker for the Orange.

Lichtenstein eventually was put on scholarship and took advantage of his chance.

In his debut against Minnesota at home, a 23-20 overtime loss, he made two field goals, including a 42-yard attempt.

Lichtenstein earned Big East Special Teams Player of the Week honors against Northwestern, as his three field goals, including a 41-yarder as time expired, lifted the Orange to a 37-34 victory.

"It's been a pretty amazing experience so far," he said.

"I wanted to come in and prove myself. I told the coaches all I wanted was a shot."

Lichtenstein said a lot of people, including his mom and dad and Gateway head coach Terry Smith, encouraged him to go to campus and do his best.

"This is an exciting time for Ryan to come back and for his family to see him play close to home," Smith said.

"He has experience at Heinz Field, so he can help his teammates with how the playing surface can be."

Lichtenstein credits Syracuse assistant head coach and special teams coach Bob Casullo for helping him throughout his first season with the Orange.

Casullo coached in the Super Bowl with Oakland in 2002 and Seattle in 2005 and also has NFL experience with Tampa Bay and the New York Jets.

"Coach Casullo has a great resume," Lichtenstein said. "He really knows what he's doing."

Lichtenstein also praised kicking coach Gary Zauner, who worked with him in the spring and summer before he came to Syracuse.

Zauner coached in the NFL for 13 seasons with Minnesota, Baltimore and Arizona. He currently is the special teams coordinator for the California Redwoods of the new United Football League.

"I don't know where I would be with out (coach Zauner's) help and advice," Lichtenstein said. "He changed my form and how I kick. He helped me out a lot."

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3 Punters Ranked in NCAA Top 10

On Thursday evening my new UFL team the California Redwoods played a game in New York vs the New York Sentinels in Giants Stadium in East Rutherford N.J.. The Redwoods won the hard fought game 20 to 13.

On Friday I got back home to Arizona at 5:15 AM. This week we have a bye. So on Friday and Saturday afternoon I was on the golf course trying to relax.

Sunday morning as I was waiting for the NFL games to begin I started working on some of my consulting projects.

Every couple of weeks I like to check the NFL and NCAA statistics to see how some of my punting and kicking students are doing. After 7 games Drew Butler, University of Georgia punter is still leading the Nation with a 49.3 Yard Punting Average and hoping to set a new NCAA record.



Drew Butler working Drop Progression Drill

As I reviewed the rest of the punting stats I noticed that two more of my One on One punting specialists had now moved up into the Top 10 NCAA Punting Stats.

Baylor University Punter Derek Epperson

Derek Epperson after seven games is now ranked 3rd in the nation in punting with a 46.09 yard average on 32 punts. Derek came to Fountain Hills, Arizona this Spring to work on this technique and improve his fundamentals.

Derek is a big strong good looking punter that has a big upside. During his time here I taught him my Drop Progression and One Step Drills. When I checked with him this summer he said his time in Arizona was well worth the trip.


Derek Epperson & Coach Zauner

As I moved down the list of punters I noticed that University of Wisconsin sophomore punter, Brad Nortman was now ranked 10th in the nation.

I have been working with Brad for the last two years on his fundamentals and drills. Brad had attended Chris Sailors kicking camps and it paid dividends in helping him get a scholarship.

Brad mentioned that at these competition and ranking camps he showed everyone he had a strong leg but admitted he never learned very much at these camps about fundamentals or technique.


Brad Nortman working his Drop Drill


It was actually rather ironic that as I was writing this blog I received a phone call from Mr. Hankins. His son Trevor Hankins is a walk-on punter at Arizona State and lives here in Scottsdale, Arizona. He mentioned that Trevor after yesterdays game is now ranked 2nd in the nation in punting.

He mentioned that Trevor was pretty much self taught and wanted to know where I give lessons and some information about my One on One Punting Lessons. He is going to talk to his son tonight. My suggestion and he agreed was that his son should wait until after the season to do any tweaking.

I wish all the guys the best of luck the rest of the season!

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Berger to Broncos & Kern to Titans

On Monday Morning I received a phone call from Brett Kern informing that he had just been released by the Denver Broncos. I was pretty much in shock! Brett in my opinion is an excellent young punter with a big leg and a lot of upside.

I had worked with Brett in the Spring of 2008 and had recommended Brett Kern and Garrett Hartley both to the Denver Broncos to sign as free agents. Both were signed however, Brett made the squad and Garrett was released but later signed with the New Orleans Saints.


Brett told me he was being replaced by Mitch Berger.

Since I was now coaching in the UFL with the California Redwoods I had not seen or worked with Mitch for about four weeks. I was surprised that Mitch had not called me about the news.

After my conversation with Brett I gave Mitch a call to find out his side of the story.

Mitch called me back Monday night from Denver and told me he had gone to Denver the week before for a tryout and was selected to be their new punter. He had just arrived in Denver on Sunday and was already practicing on Monday afternoon.


Mitch Berger is a 14 year NFL Veteran Punter and a true professional. He works and trains hard and keeps his body in excellent shape. Mitch once again this spring and summer was in Scottsdale, Arizona training with me about two times a week.

He said he knew he wasn't going to camp with any teams but wanted to be ready for any team that called after the season started. Mitch was right on his game again.

Mitch last year signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers after their punter sustained an injury. Mitch received his first Super Bowl Ring with the Steelers.


Coach Zauner with Mitch Berger's Super Bowl Ring


So, Monday I received Bad News and Good News. What was good for Mitch was bad for Brett.

I'll finish by saying I had a good conversation with Brett Kern and told him to stay positive. Through the history of football there have been many players and kicking specialists cut or released for a variety of reasons.

Brett was pretty much cut because he was told to punt the ball out of bounds vs the San Diego Chargers and Darren Sproles returned his punt for a touchdown.

For all the young kickers and punters that is life in the NFL. NFL stands for NOT FOR LONG.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Drew Butler has chance at Record

This Spring the Nations leading Punter, University of Georgia Punter Drew Butler came to Scottsdale, Arizona with his father Kevin for some One on One Punting Lessons.

Drew's father, Kevin is the former Chicago Bears kicker and the only college kicker in the College Hall of Fame to date.

Drew in just two days of lessons and drills really improved his punting technique. He went back home to Georgia for spring ball and improved but was not satisfied. He knew he could still improve even more.

So, this Summer he enrolled in Coach Zauner's three day PRO DEVELOPMENT CAMP in St. Paul Minnesota at Macalester College. Once again Drew received a lot of information and worked on all phases of his punting technique.

In my PRO DEVELOPMENT CAMP Drew worked on his getoffs, directional, and pooch punting technique and also his holding technique. We also addressed the mental side of the kicking game.

PRO DEVELOPMENT CAMP


In the above photo Drew Butler (left) and Rob Maver (right) Canada's leading punter listen to Coach Zauner's instruction on the Aussie Drop Punt Technique.

Record within Butler's reach

By Marc Weiszer marc.weiszer@onlinathens.com Story updated at 10:07 pm on 10/15/2009


Drew Butler's punts in practice a year ago were a "50-50" proposition, according to Georgia coach Mark Richt.

He might wow with one kick and look so-so on another.
Now, midway through his first season holding down the Bulldogs' punting job, Butler has been rock steady.

The redshirt sophomore leads the nation with a 49.8-yard average, which is approaching rare territory.

Only one punter in the Bowl Subdivision has ever finished a season with an average of 50 or more yards per punt dating back to 1937, according to statistics kept by the NCAA.

LSU's Chad Kessler led the nation in 1997 with a 50.3 average.

Drew Butler might be next.

"That would be very awesome ," Butler said. "That would be a really cool thing to do and the fun thing about that is, I've got two more years left to go after this one, so hopefully we can just build off that."

Since 1980, a punter needed to average 3.6 punts per game to qualify for the NCAA statistics. There was no minimum from 1937-79.

Even in the Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA), the record average is 48.2 by Northern Arizona's Mark Gould in 2002.

"A 49-something average. I never thought of that. Drew's in a groove right now," said Kevin Butler, Drew's father and a former Georgia kicker who is in the College Football Hall of Fame.

"If he can hit him that far with the right hang time and a good operation. ... hey, more power to him, we're all for it," said assistant coach John Lilly, who oversees the punt team. "If not, I don't think he's going to sit there and worry about that."

Butler's main goal before the season was for Georgia to keep pace with the 37.5-yard net punting average that it had last year when it ranked fourth in the SEC. The Bulldogs top the nation in the category at 44.0 this season.

"It's relieving to see hard work and consistent performances in practice come into the field of play," Butler said. "It's felt good. Now, it's just a matter of keep doing it every week. This punt team has been playing at a championship level, and we're going to keep it that way. We're taking pride in what we do, and it's showing on the field."


Butler has gone from erratic to consistent after getting extra coaching this offseason in Arizona and Minnesota from Gary Zauner, a former NFL special teams coach who worked with Kevin Butler when he was with the Chicago Bears.

Coach Zauner with Chicago Bears Kevin Butler



Richt heard from one Georgia player that Butler and kicker Blair Walsh were on the practice fields nearly every day this summer. Butler worked to improve his drop, footwork and body position.

In the SEC, only Vanderbilt has punted more than Georgia's 29 times.

"I know the bottom line is he would not like to be punting as much and winning more games," Kevin Butler said. "I never would have thought I'd look in the paper this week and Duke would have thrown for almost 500 yards (against N.C. State), and the same weekend we couldn't get out of Tennessee alive."

Butler leaned towards going to Duke before he accepted a scholarship from Georgia in January 2007.

He backed up Brian Mimbs last season and kicked three pooch punts.

His first punt this season at Oklahoma State set the tone. It traveled 68 yards and was downed at the 2. His favorite: a fourth-quarter punt at Arkansas that went 64 yards and pinned Arkansas at its 8.

"It totally turned field position at a key moment," Lilly said.

Distance isn't everything. There's risk in outkicking your coverage and an opponent gets a big return.

Kevin Butler still holds the Georgia record for longest field goal of 60 yards against Clemson in 1984. Now, Drew is carving his own niche.

"It's an honor and a privilege to be Kevin's son," Butler said. "I love my dad. He's my best friend, but being able to do my own thing has been really cool. Not kicking, obviously, being a punter has helped. I think if I keep doing what I'm doing, hopefully people will know me and know my dad as Drew's dad."


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