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

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Mental Side Of The Kicking Game

Kickers often deal with fragile psyches


More than 60,000 spectators packed the Orange Bowl on a late October afternoon nearly three decades ago, but Fuad Reveiz suddenly stood all alone.
The Dolphins and the Buccaneers were tied at 38, and all that stood between the home team and revelry was Reveiz, a rookie, doing his job.
Make the 43-yard kick, and he's the hero. If not . . . .
"It's not a fun thing at all," Reveiz said of the pressure that comes with end-of-game kicks.
Today, private coaches make a healthy living helping pros manage clutch situations. But Don Strock, Reveiz's holder, had a simpler, saltier message on that long-ago afternoon.
"Kick the (bleeping) ball and let's get out of here," Strock said.
Reveiz did as he was told. The football soared through the uprights.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/09/30/3027142/kickers-often-deal-with-fragile.html#storylink=cpy

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

NFL Snappers - The Vital Man in the Kicking Game

Coach Zauner's Programs Are Producing
More and More Snappers On NFL Rosters

NFL Snappers Give Back To Up and Coming College Seniors
Nick Sundberg (Redskins) and Jonathan Weeks (Texans)
Assist Coach Zauner at College Senior Specialist's Combine Event
Success Is Determined By Results!
Coach Zauner's Programs Are Associated With
These Snappers on NFL Roster:

Nick Sundberg - Redskins 
Jonathan Weeks - Texans
Matt Overton - Colts
Matt Katula - Ravens, Patriots and Vikings
Morgan Cox - Ravens
Justin Drescher - Saints
Christian Yount - Browns
Beau Brinkley - Titans
Jeremy Cain - Jaguars

NFL Specialist’s Embrace Coach Zauner, LLC

The life of a snapper can be described as all guts and no glory. Hardly any fan can ever name their team’s long snapper, unless it’s for the wrong reasons. When things go badly on a snap the whole world knows it.  This is why over my 35-year coaching career, I’ve always said, “The most vital man in your kicking game is the snapper.” Every good kick or punt starts with a good snap.

Any kicker and punter will credit success to their snappers. It’s a bond that specialists have because of their operation. You may even say it’s similar to a quarterback’s timing with a receiver running routes. Kickers and punters rely heavily on comfort and concentration, and an errant or wobbly snap can throw everything off balance. A bad snap can even throw a holder off his spot by just a few inches causing a kick to sail wide. I can’t say it enough; the snapper is the most vital man in the kicking game!

Coach Zauner January PRO Development Camp For Snappers And Punters
When I was a punter and kicker in high school and college, I always appreciated having a good snapper because it made my job so much easier. I was only as good as my snapper was. That’s why over my high school, college and NFL coaching career, I’ve always put finding a good snapper at the top of my recruiting and scouting lists.

As a side note, when I was an NFL Special Teams Coach with the Baltimore Ravens, I petitioned for snappers to be a part of both the NFL Combine and the Pro Bowl because I felt that they are a ‘football player’ just as anyone else on the team. With the support and endorsement of several NFL Coaches and Coordinators, the petition was brought to the NFL Competition Committee and passed. Initially, the NFL Combine invited two snappers each year but has since dropped to one. As far as each team having a long snapper for the Pro Bowl, it was decided each team would have a 'need' player the coaches select and its generally understood it's always a snapper.

This just goes to show that long snappers are still at the bottom of the food chain.

When I started back into my consulting business as a kicking coach, the idea of finding and coaching snappers carried over in it. This idea seems to have caught on since several NFL teams have consulted with Coach Zauner, LLC in regards to snappers. My track record with punters and kickers has always spoken for itself, however the number of snappers finding 'A Specialist's Path to PRO Football' is ever increasing as the results are proving.

Pro scouts and personnel generally find it difficult to evaluate kickers, punters and in particular snappers. I believe because of my background and appreciation for snappers, I have a gift to find, evaluate, refine and develop them. Currently eight of the 32 starting NFL snappers have come through a Coach Zauner Program.

Also, I think it would be very interesting to train and develop positional players to be a back up snapper in case of injury. A perfect example of this is when Oakland Raiders snapper Jon Condo received a concussion and had no back-up causing a special teams fiasco. These unfortunate events ultimately cost Oakland the game. Because of the 53-man roster rule today, NFL teams no longer carry back-up kickers, punters and snappers. 

Coach Zauner as an NFL and UFL Special Teams Coordinator

Even though I was a special teams coordinator, my job was to be a good teacher to each individual player. Not only was I also responsible for finding and evaluating talent, but I still coached my specialists to refine their technique. Being a full-time NFL Special Teams Coach also included being a One on One teacher to all my specialists as well.

One of the first specialists to come through my One on One Long Snapping Lessons was my former long snapper while I was a special teams coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens in 2004. Like myself, Matt Katula (U. of Wisconsin) was from Wisconsin which is how I came to hear about him. He was a very tall and lean athlete and self-taught snapper and I felt with the proper guidance he could become a great snapper.  Matt not only made the roster in 2004 but also led the NFL snappers in solo tackles.

Matt Katula (Ravens, Patriots & Vikings) One on One Lessons
Baltimore Ravens Signed Matt To A Free Agent Contract In 2004
Even after I had moved on in my career, Matt continued to play for the Ravens through the 2009 season. Because Matt suffered an injury, ironically he lost his starting job to undrafted rookie free agent Morgan Cox who attended my 2010 College Senior Specialist’s Kicking Combine.

Looking to continue snapping in the NFL, Matt came to Phoenix for One on One Snapping Lessons to refine his technique. Being self-taught, when Matt started to have problems he was not sure of how to fix it himself. Matt entrusted me as his snapping coach with the Ravens and was again comfortable working with me to get his old form back.  And this time being more fundamentally sound and knowing how to correct mistakes.   

Matt was able to return to his old form by signing and playing for both the New England Patriots and Minnesota Vikings and spending this year in the Pittsburgh Steelers training camp.  Click below to listen to Matt Katula's testimonial:

Nick Sundberg Washington Redskins Snapper

Washington Redskins long snapper Nick Sundberg (Cal. Berkeley) was first recommended to me by fellow snapping coach Ben Bernard. Nick came to receive One on One Snapping Lessons and in his spare time he would snap for other kickers and punters that I was coaching. This allowed me to get more familiar with him and improve on his technique. As I worked with Nick, I became so impressed with his ability that I brought him to play under me for the California Redwoods during the UFL's inaugural season.
Coach Zauner and Nick Sundberg with UFL California Redwoods
As Nick adopted my new coaching techniques, he became a consistent snapper and played very well in the UFL. I felt that Nick was capable of playing in the NFL and had recommended him to several teams. In no time at all, he was signed by the Washington Redskins to a futures contract and eventually beat out the incumbent starter who was also a former Pro Bowler.  Click Below to listen to Nick Sundberg's testimonial. Nick still remains on the Redskins in his fourth season, however he unfortunately broke his arm this week and is on injured reserve with a projected return. The Redskins designated Nick for return under a new NFL rule that allows each team to re-activate one player per year from IR. Under the rule my understanding is Nick must miss at least six weeks of practices and at least eight games.

Coach Zauner's Free Agent Combines Produces Results
NFL Special Teams Coordinators and Directors of Pro Personnel Evaluate Snappers

Another snapper brought to my attention by Ben Bernard was Jonathan Weeks (Baylor University). Jonathan had spent the last three years attempting a career as a professional long snapper in the NFL. Coach Bernard had recommended Jon to me not only because of my knowledge, but because Jon could use my 2010 Free Agent Specialist’s Kicking Combine to get maximum exposure to NFL Special Teams Coordinators and Directors of Pro Personnel.
Jonathan Weeks Signs with Texans After 2010 Free Agent Combine
When Jon came to me, I could see that he had a heart of gold and was willing to give it anything for one last shot as his dream.  I evaluated Jon a couple of months before the March Free Agent Specialist's Kicking Combine and he admitted he was a little rusty but I was more than confident he would turn some heads once he got back in snapping shape. For the next couple of months Jon would come out and snap for some of my One on One Kicking and Punting Lessons giving me an opportunity to keep a watchful eye on his progress.

As undersized as Jon may be, I knew that his skills, work ethic, and determination would land him on an NFL team that year. I told him that it only takes one team to fall in love with you and that team was the Houston Texans. After the combine, four NFL teams had taken notice to Jonathan. Each were planning on bringing him in for tryouts, however as soon as he finished his workout in Houston they told him to cancel his other trips and signed him to a free agent contract.

As a side note, I would also like to take a moment to thank Coach Bernard for sending me both Nick Sundberg and Jonathan Weeks.

Ben has been nothing but a professional to me. These two young men are not the only snappers that he has recommended to me and they won’t be the last. He has truly shown his dedication to help young men become better snappers whether that means they are working with him or someone else. I admire his selflessness and would like to express my most sincere gratitude.  Click below to listen to Jonathan Week's testimonial.

Current Indianapolis Colts long snapper Matt Overton (Western Washington) is also quite familiar in working with Coach Zauner, LLC. Matt has been a living example of why Coach Zauner Programs are the best way to reach ‘A Specialist’s Path to PRO Football’. He has taken One on One Snapping Lessons, participated in my PRO Development Camps, and showcased his snapping skills in three of my Free Agent Specialist's Kicking Combines.

Matt Overton Shows Snapping & Coverage Skills - 2012 Free Agent Combine
Matt Overton Signs With Colts After 2012 Free Agent Combine
As a result, Matt spent three seasons in the UFL making a name for himself and was subsequently signed by the Colts after they had seen him at my 2012 Free Agent Specialist's Kicking Combine. Matt has a passion for snapping and has an unbelievable work ethic.  In the last four years that I have known Matt he has refined his skills and taken his game to the next level.  He is living proof that hard work pays off.  Click below to listen to Matt Overton's testimonial. 

Coach Zauner's College Senior Specialist's Combine...Produces Results Again and Again
Coach Zauner's College Senior Specialist's Combine In March - Phoenix, Arizona
So far, each College Senior Specialist's Combine has yielded at least one snapper to the NFL in each year of its existence. The word has spread through the snapping community and more parents and agents are sending their sons and clients to Phoenix, Arizona to get the coaching and exposure they are looking for and deserve. The proof is in the results.

In addition to attending the College Senior Specialist's Kicking Combine, several specialist's attend my January Arizona PRO Development Camp and One on One Lessons in order to improve their technique and prepare to compete in the Combine.
Morgan Cox Snaps to Drew Butler at 2009 PRO Development Camp in Minnesota
Currently Morgan Cox (Baltimore Ravens) and Drew Butler (Pittsburgh Steelers)

Morgan Cox (U. of Tennessee) of the Baltimore Ravens and Christian Yount (UCLA) of the Cleveland Browns were a part of my PRO Development Camps and took One on One Snapping Lessons respectively in order to better prepare for their College Senior Specialist's Combines.  Both young men were excellent college long snappers, but they needed to refine their technique and find a platform to showcase their snapping, blocking and coverage skills.
Morgan Cox College Senior Specialist's Combine - 2010
Signs 2010 Free Agent Contract With Baltimore Ravens
Morgan Cox Baltimore Ravens Snapper
Christian Yount Performs at College Senior Combine - 2011
Signs 2011 Free Agent Contract with Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Christian Yount Cleveland Browns Snapper

Being a former NFL Special Teams Coach with the Baltimore Ravens, I recommended Morgan to GM Ozzie Newsome and his personnel staff.  Immediately after the 2010 NFL Draft, Morgan was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Ravens.
Morgan had a plan for his 'Specialist's Path to PRO Football' back in 2010 when I first met him at my PRO Development Camp.  He used Coach Zauner's Programs to refine his skills and get the exposure he needed and deserved. He felt that his career at U. of Tennessee combined with professional coaching and my contacts in the NFL would help him sign a professional contract.  His skills, hard work and determination won him the starting job through training camp. He has been the snapper for the Ravens the past three seasons.

I first met Christian, his father and agent while attending the 2011 College Senior Bowl. After some consultation, they decided he should come to Phoenix for One on One Snapping Lessons because he needed to improve and become more consistent. Like Nick and Jonathan, Christian worked with another Snapping Coach in Chris Rubio. After Christian and his father consulted with Chris, they all felt that any extra help that he could get would be beneficial. I would like to extend my gratitude to Chris like Ben Bernard who has shown his dedication in wanting young men to succeed in the game of football.

Christian was signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the 2011 NFL draft as an insurance policy for their incumbent injured snapper. Christian made the initial final roster out of training camp, however when Andrew Economos was healthy the Buccaneers decide to stay with their five year veteran snapper.

After being cut early in the season, Christian signed with the Cleveland Browns where he is still the starting long snapper today.  Click below to listen to Morgan Cox (Ravens) and Christian Yount's (Browns) testimonials.

Beau Brinkley (U. of Missouri) and current Tennessee Titans long snapper made his case at my 2012 College Senior Combine. Beau utilized all of the Coach Zauner, LLC programs to his benefit. Beau and his father Mike felt that attending my January Arizona PRO Development Camp for Punters and Snappers would be a perfect way to prepare for the Combine.

Beau and Mike Brinkley After One on One Snapping Lessons - AZ

After experiencing my style of coaching and teaching methods at the PRO Development Camp, Beau and his father Mike decided to returned for some One on One Snapping Lessons.  With each lesson Beau continued to improve on his snapping, blocking and coverage skills.
Beau Brinkley (U. of Missouri) Attends College Senior Specialist's Combine - 2012
Signs 2012 Free Agent Contract With Tennessee Titans
Despite Beau not having his ‘best’ day at the combine, he still performed very well and because I had seen him work out several times I was confident in recommending him. Shortly after the 2012 NFL Draft, Beau was signed by the Titans and was able to win the starting job during training camp. Click below to listen to Beau Brinkley's testimonial.

Another NFL long snapper who has utilized the College Senior Specialist's Kicking Combine is Justin Drescher of the New Orleans Saints. Prior to meeting Justin at the Combine I was not familiar with him, but I could immediately see he had good size and athleticism. After each Combine, I personally contact all NFL teams to discuss my recommendations, and Justin’s performance alone at the Combine was enough for me to include him on my list.
Justin Drescher College Senior Specialist's Combine - 2010 
Justin Drescher (U. of Colorado) Attends College Senior Specialist's Combine - 2010
Signs 2010 Free Agent Contract With New Orleans Saints
After signing as an undrafted free agent and spending training camp with the Atlanta Falcons in 2010, Justin was released only to be picked up by New Orleans in midseason as their starter was placed on injury reserve.

Justin never a took One on One Lesson or attended any of my PRO Development Camps.  However, he used the platform of my College Senior Specialist's Combine to get my endorsement and get the exposure to NFL teams he wanted and deserved.  The system worked for Justin and he is still the starting long snapper for the Saints today.

Like I always say, “Coaches Coach and Players Play” but a large part of the reason these young men are successful is because they capitalized on the opportunity to showcase their skills and compete at an event or venue with other talented specialists.  As an evaluator of talent, it is much easier for me to be able to recommend the best of the best to NFL teams especially when you see them all compete at a big event such as my College Senior Specialist's Kicking Combine.
Jacksonville Jaguars Long Snapper Jeremy Cain One on One Lessons

Coach Zauner Programs are made for all specialists, and that includes current NFL players looking to learn and refine their techniques. Working with professionals can be a very delicate process. The reason that they made it to the NFL is because they are very talented to begin with, and the reason they stay in the NFL is because of consistent performances. My goal when working with veteran NFL kicking specialists for the first time is to watch, evaluate and document the way they perform their skill and see if there are any inconsistencies. Eventually, I ask them to try some Coach Zauner drills and techniques to see which ones they like and work best for them.

Because Jacksonville Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee has seen success in taking One on One Kicking Lessons over the past three years, he recommended his long snapper Jeremy Cain to accompany him to Phoenix to have an extra set of eyes watch him snap. Jeremy wasn’t necessarily struggling in any particular aspect, but he felt that there is always room to improve so he decided it would be a good idea to attend.
Jeremy Cain (Jaguars) Comes For One on One Lessons To Refine Technique
As a side note to his One on One Snapping Lessons, Jeremy started his NFL career in training camp with the Chicago Bears as a linebacker and special teams player. He developed into an NFL snapper with a lot of self taught practice and hard work.  Jeremy is a Pros Pro and wants to make sure he maintains and improves his skills at the highest level to insure he keeps one of those 32 very precious and sought after roster spots.

Jeremy Cain One on One Snapping Lesson in Phoenix, AZ - 2012
After working with Jeremy, I could see why he made it to the NFL. He was able to improve on a few minor inconsistencies and slightly altered his field goal technique. After their stay, I felt that Jeremy was very coachable and left Phoenix satisfied with what he had learned.
Coach Zauner at July PRO Development Camp in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
The snapper is the 'Vital' or most important man in your kicking game.  As a former kicker and special teams coach, you realize how important they really are, especially if you don't have a good one.

It has been a real pleasure meeting, coaching and helping these snappers realize their dream of playing or staying in the NFL. The purpose for creating my One on One Lessons and PRO Development Camps were to help young men meet their maximum potential while my College Senior and Free Agent Specialist's Kicking Combines were designed as my 'Field of Dreams' for deserving specialist's around the country to get exposure they all deserve. Nothing brings me more enjoyment than the success my students see on the field and in life.

Coach Zauner’s Programs have been ‘A Specialist’s Path to PRO Football’ for several kickers, punters, and snappers across the country and I hope to continue this trend for years to come. 

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Drew Butler Steelers Punter

Drew Butler Makes Pittsburgh Steelers Final Roster
Drew Butler Rookie Free Agent With The Pittsburgh Steelers
It has been said that playing a professional sport is not easy. Playing in the NFL is a feat not many can claim to have accomplished, and being one of 253 players selected in the NFL Draft is even more rare. It shows the NFL teams investment and confidence in the player's ability to perform as well as his character. 

Teams expect their draft picks to challenge incumbent starters and show why they were chosen over the thousands of other college football players around the country. It's never easy, but being a draft pick can take an awful lot of weight off ones shoulders plus put some good money in their pockets.  However, their is no guarantee of making an NFL roster just because you're drafted. 

The other way to make an NFL roster is to be an undrafted free agent. There are times when free agents come in and make an immediate impact on the team, but generally speaking most are used to fill roster spots and are in training camp to give looks to first and second string veteran players. More often than not, kickers, punters and snappers are forced to make their case as a free agent, and it can be a tough and difficult road.

In 2009, redshirt sophomore Drew Butler was vying for the starting punter position at the University of Georgia. Upon being named the starter, Drew stormed through the season averaging a career high 48 yards while sending 24 punts over 50 yards. His performances garnered him the 2009 Ray Guy Award as the nations top collegiate punter. 

Drew continued his dominance earning countless awards such as being an All-American, an All-Conference player, an Academic All-American and a team captain. Drew topped his storied career off being invited to the 2012 Senior Bowl and NFL Combine.

During the 2012 NFL Combine, Drew had a excellent workout and from my understanding, very impressive interviews with NFL Coaches and Scouts. Despite having one of the most prolific punting careers in college football as well as great work ethic and brains to boot, Drew's phone never rang during the 2012 NFL Draft.

The waiting game began, but it didn't take long. The phone began to ring soon after the draft, and Drew along with his family and agent Derek Gilmore decided that Pittsburgh was the best place for him. I told Drew that was a great choice. Starter Daniel Sepulveda had been released due to his unfortunate knee injuries and the Steelers were looking for the next punter to take over the starting role.
Drew Butler (Pittsburgh Steelers) in 2012 Training Camp
As Drew worked through mini-camp and training camp, he was awarded playing time during the preseason and showed why he was the best candidate for the job. During the final cuts, Drew was told that he had made the team and will be the starting punter in week 1 against the Denver Broncos.

His dream was fulfilled, and he was going to be an NFL punter and will finally play on Sundays. However, as a NFL Rookie he still needs to prove everyday and every game why he still belongs. The NFL is a tough league to sustain a career as a coach and player, but I have a feeling Drew is very familiar with that and he will surely love living his dream.

'A Specialist's Path To PRO Football' 
Here is Drew Butler's Path

In 1992 Coach Zauner Coaching Kevin Butler As Kicking Consultant
For Chicago Bears Head Coach Mike Ditka  
Upon finishing my college coaching career, I decided to open up my own consulting business in the early 90's. During this time, several Hall of Fame NFL Head Coaches used my kicking consulting services. The list included: Dick Vermeil, Dan Reeves, Marty Schottenheimer, Tom Flores, George Seifert and Mike Ditka. When Coach Ditka brought me into Chicago to work with their special teams coach and specialists, the punter was Chris Gardocki and the kicker was Kevin Butler. Kevin was an excellent kicker especially while kicking in the cold and windy city of Chicago at Soldier Field.  Kevin and I got along very well and established a lasting friendship that we even maintained during the years he was playing for the Chicago Bears and I was coaching for the Minnesota Vikings.  

In March of 2009, Kevin first brought his son Drew to Phoenix, Arizona for his first One on One Punting Lesson. Drew was a redshirt sophomore at the time and was working to be the team's starting punter.   Kevin called me because he wanted another set of eyes to look at Drew, so they decided to fly  to Phoenix for my evaluation and opinion.

Kevin also stated that coaching your own son is not the easiest task as a father.  These are basically the same comments I received from all-time kicking greats Gary Anderson and Jeff Feagles when they also brought their sons to Phoenix for One on One Kicking and Punting Lessons.  Gary kicked for 24 years and Jeff punted for 22 Years in the NFL. 
Kevin Butler Brings Son Drew Butler To Scottsdale, Arizona in March of 2009
 For  His First One on One Punting Lesson
After just 3 days of lessons, I looked at Drew and said, "If you continue to stay focused on everything we work on during our punting lessons, I believe in four years you will be playing football on Sundays like your dad." Drew was speechless as his jaw dropped. After pausing a moment, he gathered his thoughts and said, "Coach, I just want to be the starting punter at Georgia right now".

Drew showed to me that he had talent and potential, but there were a few punting fundamentals that he needed to work on to become a better all-around and consistent punter.  I felt that Drew needed to first change his grip and drop because he had too many nose up drops, and secondly he needed to punt up and through the ball better.  Drew had what I call a jack knife crunch. 

I introduced Drew, as I do all specialists, to what I call Coach Zauner's 'Natural Style of Kicking and Punting'.  Drew loved it, embraced it, and has worked very hard to be very successful with it.
Drew Butler (U. of Georgia) Wins 2009 Ray Guy Award
Not only did Drew win the starting job for the Georgia Bulldogs, he won the 2009 Ray Guy Award! This honor is given to the nations top collegiate punter each year. Drew had the highest punting average in the country with 48.1 yards per punt, and had the highest NCAA average since 2001. Not only was he an All-American punter, he was also named to the to the SEC Athletic Director's Honor Roll as well as Georgia's Dean's List.
Kevin Butler (Chicago Bears) and Jeff Feagles (New York Giants)
Bring Their Sons Drew and CJ To Scottsdale, Arizona For One on One Punting Lessons
In July of 2009, Drew attended my PRO Development Camp at Macalester College in Minnesota, and for the next two years he continued coming to Arizona and Milwaukee during spring and summertime attending One on One Punting Lessons. In each session, it was evident that he was maturing physically and mentally while maintaining his punting techniques to back up his reputation as one of the nation's top college punters.

Drew was improving every year.  Not only as an open field punter but directionally and was starting to perfect the Aussie drop punt technique in pooch punt territory.  He had become an excellent holder and a valuable asset to his team. Drew has been coached by me on technique but more importantly by his father on how to be a 'Pros Pro'.
Coach Zauner Attends Drew Butler's Last Game As A Georgia Bull Dog
Drew had an outstanding college career; Michelle and I were honored to be invited to the University of Georgia's Senior Day. It was a very heartwarming event and I was proud to be there for his last home game where he also showed a good display on the field.

As I mentioned earlier, Drew was an Academic All-American, and knowing that football is not the only path in life can relieve a lot of pressure while on the gridiron. He was playing his cards right and knew that he had the ability to give the NFL a shot, and if things didn't work out he could easily pursue a different career.

One of Drew's secret weapons was his 'master plan'. Due to his redshirt giving him an extra year enrolled in school, he was able to play his senior season at Georgia while working on finishing his Master's Degree. After Drew's last college football game, The Outback Bowl, he moved to the Phoenix area to start offseason training similar to several other high profile college seniors preparing for the NFL Combine and Draft.  While Drew was training during January and February on his punting technique, he continued to gain confidence and improve each day. I told Drew that what separates an NFL punter from a great college punter is not always leg strength or how far you can hit a ball, but its about consistency and eliminating bad days, not just bad punts. Drew understood that concept and each session was better than the last.

Drew's 'master plan' was working out perfectly.

After a couple of weeks of One on One Punting Lessons in January Drew headed to Mobile, Alabama for the 2012 Senior Bowl Game, and I was right behind him.
Coach Zauner With Drew Butler and Randy Bullock at 2012 Senior Bowl
Every year in January, I attend the Senior Bowl and have for quite some time now. It's a time when I get to catch up with many of my old NFL coaching friends, network with NFL Special Teams Coordinators and Head Coaches, and evaluate the new draft class of kicking specialists. As a kicking coach this year's 2012 Senior Bowl was very special. Drew along with two other long time One on One Students, Randy Bullock (Texas A & M) and Brad Nortman (University of Wisconsin), were also invited.

I got to watch all three young men practice and spent some quality time with them.  They each had a good week and performed well in the game which helped to improve their draft stock.  
Drew Butler (Steelers), Randy Bullock (Texans) and Brad Nortman (Panthers)
Drew Butler (Georgia & Steelers) and Randy Bullock (Texas A & M and Texans) 
After the Senior Bowl Game, Drew headed back to Phoenix for more punting lessons to prepare for the NFL Combine.  Several other specialist's also arrived for One on One Kicking, Punting and Snapping Lessons and NFL Combine training.  They included Randy Bullock (Texans), Brad Nortman (Panthers), Carson Wiggs (Seahawks), Kyle Martens (Chargers), and Beau Brinkley (Titans).

My plan was to create an environment in Phoenix during January and February for the best kicking specialists to train and prepare for the NFL combine.  February was a busy month, not only for me but also for Drew.  Drew got extra work in catching punt snaps from snappers and holding for various kickers. 

Drew and the other kicking specialists took a short hiatus to visit home only to turn around and immediately fly to Indianapolis for the NFL Combine in late February. 
Drew Butler at 2012 NFL Combine in February (Left to Right)
Randy Bullock, Drew Butler, Coach, Kyle Martens, Carson Wiggs & Brad Nortman
(All Coach Zauner One on One Students)
In addition to traveling to the Senior Bowl each year, I have also attend the NFL Combine to continue evaluating and networking. Like the Senior Bowl, the NFL Combine was very special to me this year as five of my specialist's were showcasing their talents in Indy.

The NFL Combine can be very overwhelming for even the most experienced and high profile football players in the country. Each and every individual is constantly under a microscope and the intensity can make or break a player in just the few days they are there. Not only are coaches looking at ability and talent on the field, but each player is also put through an interview process that can be long and tedious. NFL Teams want to know just about everything about you whether it's your family, girlfriend/wife, school, or your life story.  It is a very long and intense process to say the least. 

Drew passed the NFL combine tests with flying colors. Not only did Drew perform well on the field, but what I heard from several NFL Special Teams Coordinators he also interviewed extremely well.
Drew's dad is familiar with how the NFL works, he did a very good job of preparing Drew of what to expect and how to keep a calm demeanor. Drew had no problem answering questions and saying all the right things.  
Drew Butler Trains For Two Months in Phoenix, AZ For 2012 NFL Combine
Even after competing at the NFL Combine, Drew knew that his training wasn't even close to being over.  He still had Georgia's Pro Day and numerous private workouts with NFL Special Teams Coordinators. Drew continued punting for another four days in Phoenix to help him prepare for his Pro Day back in Georgia. A true professional never quits training, and if you want to play in the NFL you have to have that mentality.

2012 NFL Draft in April - Drew Signs Free Agent Contract With Steelers

When everything had taken place and the NFL Draft was about to start, Drew was feeling confident about his chances of being selected in one of the later rounds because of his feedback he had received from workouts and interviews with NFL Coaches. Despite these positives, it is still the NFL Draft and anything can happen. Teams have a limited number of draft picks and may not want to spend them on a kicking specialist.

As the later rounds came and went, Drew received no phone call. He was a little let down but was prepared for that possibility, and was looking forward to the next step, which was working to get signed as an undrafted free agent .

I would also like to note that during this process I mentioned to Drew that at times it is not always in your best interests to be drafted. By signing a free agent contract, you have more flexibility in your decision on where to play and make the best possibility to make the final roster. It doesn't matter whether your drafted or not, you still have to beat somebody out and Drew was up for the challenge.

Shortly after the draft had ended, Drew and his agent, Derek Gilmore, were in contact with several teams about the possibility of signing a contract. After discussions had taken place, they decided that Pittsburgh was the best place to start his career. The Steelers had said he would compete with veteran punter Jeremy Kapinos for the starting position. I felt Drew and his agent made the right choice. 
Drew Butler (Steelers) Works With  Kyle Wojta (U. of Wisconsin)
Drew Prepares For First Training Camp in July in Milwaukee, Wisconsin 
After Drew completed his May and June mini-camps, he decided to take another One on One Punting Lesson in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to further prepare himself for training camp.  Like previous summers, Drew had always finished his training in Milwaukee and this year was no different. 

When Drew returned to Pittsburgh, training camp started and it was time to shine. Due to an injury to Kapinos, Drew handled the punting duties for the first preseason game, and while it wasn't his best performance he showed that he was able to handle the pressures and still punted well. After it was all said and done, Drew started every preseason game, made the final roster cuts, and was named as the teams starting punter. He had finally done it, he was living his dream of finally playing on Sunday's.

Drew was very well aware of what it would take to complete 'A Specialist's Path to PRO Football', and he was willing to make the sacrifices to take that path. I always say, "you should plan your work and work your plan", and Drew worked it to perfection. Yes, without the people around him, it would have been much tougher, but Drew's planning, determination, work ethic, personality, and passion have taken him to where he is today.

Drew's parents Kevin and Kathy could not have raised a better son. By giving Drew their undying love and support in anything that he put his mind to, they showed their will for him to succeed and grow into the person he is today. They have so much to be proud of and I am honored to consider their family close friends.
Drew Butler Punts Against New York Jets in Week Two
Drew Working Handoff / Handdown Drop

Good luck to Drew and his Pittsburgh Steeler teammates and I hope to see you play again in person soon!
Drew's Proud Parents, Kevin and Kathy Butler
Side Note:  In the past four plus years Drew and I have had some a very competitive golf matches after our One on One Training Sessions. I have enjoyed not only coaching Drew but competing head to head on the links as well.  Collecting the $1.00 bet was always a highlight of my day! 
Coach Zauner - Drew Butler 'Golf Match'

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