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

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

2012 Free Agent Combine A Success

Attending Specialists Make
Coach Zauner's 2012 Free Agent Kicking Combine a Success

It's always good to know that hard work pays off.  In 2011 I had One on One Kicking and Punting Lessons with veteran specialists: Jeff Reed, Shayne Graham and Matt Dodge.  All three attended my Free Agent Combine this year and had excellent performances.  Also, Robert Malone and Clint Stitser other veteran NFL specialists attended and had an excellent showing.

Ever, since kicker Billy Cundiff (Baltimore Ravens) attended the 2009 Free Agent Specialist's Kicking Combine as a platform to showcase his talents, more and more veteran specialists are deciding to attend this Combine to get the exposure they want from NFL teams.

Veteran NFL Kickers Shayne Graham and Jeff Reed Attend 2012 Combine
Veteran NFL Kicker Clint Stitser (Fresno State and Bengals) Field Goal Contest
Veteran NFL Punter, Matt Dodge (East Carolina and Giants)
Veteran NFL Punter Robert Malone (Fresno State and Buccaneers)

NFL and CFL Special Teams Coaches and Scouts Evaluate Snappers
The Free Agent Combine is meant to be a platform for specialists at various points in their careers to get exposure from NFL personnel. The 4th Annual Coach Zauner’s Free Agent Kicking Combine took place on March 20th at Paradise Valley High School and was our most successful yet.
Snappers Warm Up in Beautiful Arizona Weather
After a week of uncharacteristically bad weather in Phoenix, it was roughly sixty degrees the morning of the combine, eighty by mid-afternoon, there were mild winds and not a single cloud in the sky. Fortunately for the athletes, that makes for optimal kicking conditions.

The 2012 Free Agent Specialist's Combine welcomed sixty specialists: 24 kickers, 18 punters and 18 snappers, all of whom were eligible to sign contracts at the professional level. Each of the specialists hoping to catch the eye of one or two and maybe three of the Special Teams Coaches, Scouts and Directors of Pro Personnel that attend.  Over the years there has been an average of 26 NFL, CFL and UFL Coaches.

Seahawks, Bengals, Falcons, Dolphins, Browns Special Teams Coaches Register for Combine
The NFL was represented by 19 teams. This number of teams was a little low. However this year several teams franchised there kicking specialists and had little reason to attend.

Coaches and Scouts Watch Snappers During Warmup
Tuesday morning, the snappers were on display for the  NFL and CFL coaches and scouts who filled bleachers on the field. The prospective athletes then partook in a variety of drills and assessments meant to showcase their talent in attempt to win a roster spot at the next level.

Following the snappers, the punters and kickers participated in a variety of skill tests and were evaluated by the same group of evaluators who were sitting up close and personal on the sidelines.

Coach Zauner Gives Directions to Snappers and Punters Before Punting Competition
Coach Zauner Gives Instruction to the (24) Kickers Competing
Ultimately, the goal of Coach Zauner’s Free Agent Combine is to act as a link between free agent specialists and NFL and CFL representatives looking to fill roster spots. Every year, I receive feedback from the players and coaches, commending what we did right and offering suggestions for improvements.

This year, several coaches approached me at the culmination of the Combine and commented on the exceptional level of talent on the field. They even went as far as to say it was the most impressive group they have seen yet. It’s no secret that I’m an immaculate perfectionist, but hearing such positive feedback from people who judge NFL talent for a living I couldn’t help but think, “Hey, maybe we’re doing something right!”

As I always say, “Coaches Coach and Players Play” and the athletes who attended the 2012 Free Agent Combine deserve all the credit in the world for putting in the blood, sweat and tears to get better at what they do. Several of the specialists on the field Tuesday, I work with in One on One training and many have attended one or more of Coach Zauner’s PRO Development Camps. Knowing on a personal level, the time and effort they’ve put in, I couldn’t be more pleased with their performances at the Combine.

Several of the participants have already called to share the good news that they had been contacted by a scout or staff member on hand at the 2012 Free Agent Specialist's Combine and are currently engaging in conversations about future tryouts.

Assistants Steve Hoppe and Billy Khayat
'A Specialist's Path To PRO Football' was essentially developed as a blueprint for prospective kickers, punters and snappers with aspirations of playing at an elite level. My staff and I are constantly learning through experience, both personally and vicariously, more efficient ways to assist our athletes in realizing their dreams. The success of the 4th Annual Coach Zauner’s Free Agent Combine would not have been possible without the help and support of everyone involved. I‘d like to extend my sincere gratitude to all of the coaches, scouts and athletes in attendance, my incredible staff and my beautiful wife.

Nick Schirtzinger - Special Assistant and Nicole Flanary (Stats)
While that is a wrap on another fantastic Combine, there’s a great deal on the horizon for Coach Zauner, LLC including a speaking opportunity March 23rd-24th at the 2012 Alabama Spring Football Coaching Clinic. Keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming post about Coach Zauner’s experience at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and don’t forget to check the blog section on my website www.coachzauner.com every week for the most recent updates, pictures and information on future events!
Shayne Graham Checks Out The New NFL (K) Balls Used For Testing
Just a side note:  All testing at Coach Zauner's College Senior and Free Agent Specialist's Combines are done with new NFL (K) Balls.  

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

2012 NFL Combine & College Senior Combine

Sixty-Four College Seniors Attend
Coach Zauner's 2012 College Senior Combine

The NFL Combine is essentially a measuring stick for NFL coaches and personnel around the league.  It is a way of evaluating talent and ranking prospects based on the athletic abilities and character expected at the professional level. 

This year’s NFL Combine was exceptionally special for Coach Zauner LLC, because five of our  One on One Lesson specialists had the opportunity to make the trip to Indianapolis at the end of February.  While I was there to support those five athletes, I also wanted to see how they compared to the rest of those in attendance. 
Coach Zauner One on One Students Attend 2012 NFL Combine
Randy Bullock, Drew Butler, Kyle Martens, Carson Wiggs & Brad Nortman
Over the past several years, there have been many exceptional players from smaller schools overlooked by the next level, simply because they don’t receive the level of exposure that larger universities benefit from.  Realizing this was the catalyst behind the formation of my College Senior Specialist's Combine, or my version of a “Field of Dreams”.

The College Senior Specialist's Combine has proved incredibly successful since the 1st annual event in 2010 and this year was no different. 
Coach Zauner's 2012 College Senior Specialist's Combine
(64) Specialist's Attend Three Day Combine

March 2-4, 2012 sixty-four specialists attended Coach Zauner's 2012 College Senior Specialists Combine in Gilbert, Arizona.  Over three days, the athletes were put through a series of tests and drills to assess their skills, fundamentals and technique. During the Combine my staff evaluated each of the specialists and determined whether or not I believed they had potential to be an NFL Specialist.
Jonathan Weeks (Texans) and Nick Sundberg (Redskins) Assist in Evaluating Snappers
Several NFL Special Teams Coaches and College Director or Personnel raved about the excess of talent at this year’s specialist NFL Combine and voiced that they believed this was the best group of kids to date. I couldn’t agree more and am incredibly proud to have had the pleasure of working with five of the athletes.
Nick Schirtzinger and Steve Hoppe Record Coach Zauner's Comments
Using my 36 plus years of experience coaching and working with specialists as my “measuring stick” of sorts, I found nine snappers, seven kickers and five punters whom I believe have NFL potential.  These twenty-one athletes were not among those invited to Indianapolis to attend the official NFL Combine, but they deserve a genuine shot to get looks or workouts and signed as free agent after the draft to compete for a spot on an NFL roster. Hopefully, the College Senior Specialist's Combine or "Field of Dream" will open the door to that opportunity.

Results and highlight videos of the twenty-one aforementioned prospects have been posted on my website at  Coach Zauner's Lockerroom, plus will be given directly to NFL coaches and Directors of Pro Personnel at my Free Agent Specialist's Combine later this month.  This provides an opportunity for exposure that may otherwise be missed.

The 2012 College Senior Specialists Combine was immeasurably successful. From the feedback I’ve received and the number of inquiries about my One on One Kicking, Punting & Snapping Lessons and PRO Development Camps, I believe those who attended got something useful from the experience. I always say “Coaches Coach and Players Play”. These athletes are the ones out there putting in the blood sweat and tears and I simply feel fortunate to have been a part of it.

NFL Coaches Evaluate Players
 NFL, CFL & UFL Evaluating Talent At Previous Free Agent Combines
As in life, the end of one chapter, marks the beginning of another. On March 19th and 20th, coaches and staff from NFL teams will be on the field to evaluate participants in the 2012 Free Agent Specialist's Combine in Paradise Valley.  In the past, several players have signed with teams after scouts and personnel evaluated their performance at this one day event. My gracious staff and I have been working hard to make this the best possible opportunity for all the specialists attending and I cannot wait for the Free Agent Specialist's Combine to get rolling!

Best of luck to all of the kicking specialists in this upcoming 2012 Free Agent Specialist's Combine and also in the 2012 NFL draft.

Coach Zauner's Combine Testings Are Performed With New NFL (K) Balls

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Army Committment vs NFL Career

Jeremy Jonas (U.S. Army) After One on One Snapping Evaluation

For some of my athletes, Sunday was a day dedicated to rest, and as much as part of me would've loved to join in the relaxation. I had work to do. I was meeting with a young man by the name of Jeremy Jonas. I knew a thing or two about him prior to our first evaluation session together. I knew he was an incredibly efficient long snapper. I knew he was 25 years young and he probably took a lot of heat for having the same last name as a trio of Disney singers.
What I didn't know is that I would learn as much from as he would from me.

Jeremy is a Midwest boy, born and raised in a small suburb of Ohio. His long snapping career (no pun intended) began in middle school, and after his years of playing at an elite level, he was offered a handful of Division 1 scholarships. Upon high school graduation, Jeremy made a choice that would not only impact the next four years, but change his entire life.

Jeremy opted to attend the United States Military Academy.

There are few people that willingly put themselves in a situation that inevitably brings upon the biggest challenge they will ever face, but Jeremy did just that.

He could have chosen a school that required only passing grades to remain on the team. He could’ve chosen a school without strict rules and a notoriously challenging curriculum—a school that didn't require a multiple-year commitment to serve in a war overseas. Sure, it would have been easier. But, that’s not how Jeremy Jonas is built.

If you ever ask him what the catalyst was behind his decision he admits, “I know it sounds really cliché, believe me. But, I felt honored and proud to have the opportunity to serve for my country.” I could hear it a thousand times but never believe it as much as when he said it.

Jeremy’s opportunity to serve came in the summer of 2011 when he was deployed to Iraq. His two years of active duty came after two seasons of football as the long snapper for the Army’s football team. Two very impressive seasons.

During his tenure with the Army, Jeremy made it a point to do the exact opposite of what most 20-year old sports stars kill for—to stay out of the spotlight. Perhaps wisely so.
Jeremy's view and perspective as a snapper is a little upside down
Kickers, punters and snappers aren’t typically considered very “glamorous” positions. In all honesty, often the only attention afforded to specialists is in the form of vindication. Jeremy figured that as a snapper keeping a low-profile meant you were doing your job and doing it well. Jeremy kept a low-profile 74 out of 74 times in his 2008 season with Army. 

After putting together such an impressive season, Jeremy garnered a different kind of attention, the good kind. Not only were college coaches and teams noticing him, but NFL personnel began raising their eyebrows.
Wouldn’t be the first time…
When he was younger, Jeremy was afforded the opportunity to work with Brad St. Louis, who at the time was the long snapper for Cincinnati.
“I remember snapping a couple times for him and he complimented me on my form. He told me to go after it”.  
At the time, Brad was a veteran in the league. He played week in and week out against the strongest, fastest athletes in the country...and he saw something in Jeremy.
Wouldn’t be the last time…
In 2005, while Jeremy was attending a kicking camp in Kentucky, Ray Guy, Oakland Raiders (arguably the greatest punter of all-time) called him up on stage. Out of all the prospective athletes in attendance, Ray chose him to demonstrate proper technique.
Jeremy’s gift was always evident—even to the best of the best. 
Jeremy works Long Snapping Technique with Drew Butler (U. of Georgia)
In 2009, Jeremy was forced to make yet another difficult decision about his future. He decided to forgo his senior football season in order to graduate with his peers as a Field Artillery Officer.  Following graduation, he attended Field Artillery Basic Officer Leader Course at Fort Sill, Oklahoma and shortly thereafter was stationed at Fort Bliss, TX.

Jeremy Jonas in Iraq - Gave Up a Football for a Gun
In the summer of 2011, he was deployed to Mosul, Iraq.

'I cannot articulate what the experience in Iraq has done for me as a person and how it changed every aspect of my life for the better."

Almost two years have passed since Jeremy made the choice to honor his commitment to the military and relinquish one more season of football. His passion and dedication to being a member of the United States Military is glaringly apparent and he is undoubtedly prepared to spend a lifetime serving his country. But, he may have some unfinished business.

We've experienced it; that little voice in your head that just never seems to go away. that voice (perhaps Ray's or Brad's) in Jeremy's head urging him to give football one last shot. One last REAL shot. 

"I'd like to be afforded this opportunity. I want to give it 100%. I want to do everything I can to become the best I can be and see where it can take me…I'd regret it if I didn't."
Jeremy Jonas Works Perfect Laces Drill With Drew Butler
Over the years, athletes have come to me at pivotal points in their lives for a myriad of reasons. In speaking with Jeremy, I came to realize he has never actually had specialized, personalized training to help develop his technique and polish his skills. He sought me out because he believed I could help put him in the best position to silence that relentless knocking on the door and discover whether or not he has what it takes to play at the next level. 

Regardless of what lies ahead for Jeremy on the football field, I feel lucky to have had the chance to meet a young man with such a high caliber of character and class. My goal as a kicking coach and mentor is always to inspire the athletes I work with, and I truly believe the story of Jeremy Jonas is worthy of sharing. I look forward to continuing to work with him and wish him nothing but the very best in all of his future endeavors. 

Jeremy is working hard to get in football shape to attend my Free Agent Specialist's Combine, March 20, 2012. 

Jeremy Jones and Coach Zauner After a Long Snapping Evaluation in Phoenix, Arizona

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Friday, March 2, 2012

Pursuing an NFL Roster Opportunity

Coach Zauner's 
College Senior Combines Producing Results
Coach Zauner Explains Coverage Drill to 25 Snappers at 2011 Combine
Aside from supporting my own athletes throughout the NFL Combine experience, I also make a point to evaluate everyone they are competing against. The level of talent displayed throughout the weekend never ceases to amaze me. Every year, I am more and more impressed by the progression of the sport and the physical capabilities of the young men invited to participate.

The problem is not everyone is extended an invitation and often even the most talented and pro-ready prospects are overlooked and miss their shot entirely.

Years ago, I had a vision to develop a College Senior Specialist's Kicking Combine, composed of specialists from small schools, big universities and everything in between. I like to think of it as a 'Field of Dreams' of sorts. At this combine, I wanted to give qualified and dedicated specialists the chance to prove themselves. I wanted to give them a platform to not only showcase their skills, but make those crucial changes in fundamentals and techniques that will mold them into the exact type of athlete the NFL is looking for.

Having worked in professional football for over thirteen years, I would like to think I have a decent grasp of the style and skill set that separate good college players from great NFL players. The College Senior Specialist's Kicking Combine allows me the opportunity to share this with kickers, punters and snappers that are just a step away from making that transition to the next level.

Morgan Cox & Justin Drescher signed to Ravens and Saints Rosters
At the three-day event, a select group of specialists will get that last shot they'd have otherwise missed. There is a huge misconception among college athletes, families and the general public that if you aren't participating in the combine, nor invited to the draft, you will not play in the league.

This is 100% false and I can pull from countless personal experiences to provide support.

For instance, in 2008, I received a call from the Denver Broncos coaching staff asking me if I knew of any kickers and punters who were NFL ready and would possibly a good fit for their team. At the time I was working closely with punter Brett Kern (University of Toledo) and kicker Garrett Hartley (University of Oklahoma) and immediately recommended them to the GM with the Denver Broncos.

Shortly thereafter, Brett and Garrett both signed free agent contracts with the Broncos. Brent remained on the Mile High City roster for the remainder of the year and is currently playing for the Tennessee Titans. Hartley, although released by Denver prior to the 2008 season, was picked up shortly thereafter by the New Orleans Saints where he went 13-for-13 in eight games as a rookie.

Neither attended the NFL combine. Neither attended the NFL draft. 

I can't say it enough...far too often players (specialists, in particular) miss out on the opportunity to get in front of the right people and fine tune their skills according to the standards expected at the next level. The College Senior Specialist's Kicking Combine provides a carefully composed group of athletes this chance and after months of hard work and preparation I couldn't be more excited to see what these players have to offer.

There are so many different ways people get where they want to be and sometimes when we come to those fork-in-the-road decision, a little direction wouldn't hurt. Over the years, I have carved a series of clinics, combines and one-on-one training that put players on  'A Specialists Path to PRO Football'. I couldn't be happier to lead the 64 specialists attending the 2012 College Senior Specialist's Combine down this path and with the number of attendance rising with each passing season I am believing more the more or less ancient proverb to be true-- 'If you build it, they will come'.

Coach Evaluates and Recommends 13 Specialists - 8 Sign NFL Contracts
Christian Yount (UCLA) Signed to Buccaneers and Browns 2011 Roster 

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