On Monday and Tuesday former University of Virginia kicker, Connor Hughes was in Scottsdale, Arizona for some One on One Kicking Lessons.
After graduation Conner was signed as a free agent and went to mini camp in 2007 with the New Orleans Saints. He was cut and signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers and later sent to NFL Europe.
Conner has had an excellent college career and has a taste of the NFL. He like many kicking specialists that have had excellent college careers and have been in a couple of NFL camps are all trying to figure out why NFL teams are not giving him and others like him any more tryout looks.
In my opinion the new decade of GM's and Directors of Pro and College Personnel have very little patients for developing kicking specialists. They think the answer to replacing their kicking specialists is through the most recent draft. Kicking specialists are like a fine wine, they take time to mature.
The only problem today is there is no place to mature and develop. The 80 man NFL roster limits and the absence of NFL Europe and Arena 1 football are causing the American kicker, punter and snapper to become a dying breed.
Hopefully, the United Football League (UFL) and the four teams this year with the possibility of the league increasing to 8 or 10 teams in 2010 will produce more job opportunities for kicking specialists in the near future.
However, in the last couple of years Connor has received some instruction and advice from a couple of special teams and kicking coaches that I think have slowed or hindered his development.
On Monday we reviewed his video and he mentioned to me that he has unknowingly changed his kicking technique. We watched video of several other NFL kickers and I came up with a progression of drills that I thought would give Connor the proper muscle memory to be a more consistent kicker.
At the end of the second session Connor was very happy with the way he was kicking field goals and kicking off.
Connor finished his day kicking field goals with a snap and hold. Lending a helping hand snapping was Nick Sundberg from Cal. Berkeley and holding was 14 year NFL punter Mitch Berger. I worked with Nick and Mitch after Connor finished his One on One Kicking Lessons.
Connor Hughes, Nick Sundberg & Mitch Berger
Click below to listen to Connor Hughes testimonial on working with Coach Zauner:
It was a real pleasure meeting and working with Connor Hughes. He is a fine young man and has a lot of ability. I know that if he works the drills and technique and gets the proper muscle memory he will impress the NFL scouts and coaches at my March Free Agent Specialists Combine.
I wish him the best of luck in his pursuit of securing a kicking position in the NFL or UFL.
Stay Tuned for More of Coach Zauner's Blog!
Follow Coach Zauner on www.twitter.com