Five Years of One on One Lessons Pay Dividends for
Rookie NFL Punter Brad Nortman
|Brad Nortman (U. of Wisconsin) 6th Round NFL Selection by Carolina Panthers|
|Brad Nortman 2008 High School Senior at Brookfield Central H.S. (Wisconsin)|
I first met Brad Nortman in 2008 when he was a graduating senior at Brookfield Central High School, which is located in a suburb just outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Being a native of Milwaukee myself, I still had many ties to high school and college coaches throughout the state, so I was very familiar with Brad's success in high school.
My younger brother David, who is an insurance agent with Robertson Ryan & Associates, works with Brad's uncle Bill Milkent. One day, my brother overheard Bill talking about his nephew (Brad) contemplating on accepting scholarship offers from Michigan State or Minnesota.
Well, in our family, we were taught that brothers should always take care of brothers.
My brother mentioned to Bill that I was a kicking coach and that he should check out my website, www.coachzauner.com. Bill and his older brother had also both attended the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse, my old alma mater. After checking out my website, Bill mentioned that he knew about me from my playing days back in college and had also followed my NFL coaching career.
To make a long story short, Brad was one of Chris Sailer's top ranked punters throughout his senior season and several big name schools were pursuing his punting services. Wisconsin was only recruiting Brad as a preferred walk-on punter. However, when they found out that Brad was offered a scholarship by Minnesota and Michigan State, they jumped back in and also offered Brad a scholarship. Brad then made the right decision to attend U of Wisconsin.
Bill is an avid sports fan, and after checking out my website, he mentioned to Brad's mother and father that it may be a good investment for Brad to meet me and take a One on One Punting Lesson.
|Brad Nortman First One on One Punting Lesson in June of 2008|
During our first One on One Punting Lesson in 2008, I was very impressed with Brad's leg strength, but I noted he needed to work on a couple of basic fundamentals in order to become a more well-rounded punter.
Several of these big kicking camps around the country are great for high school specialists to get exposure to colleges, however my understanding from players and parents alike, they do not stress fundamentals. It's all about rankings.
I have my own opinion about rankings, but I don't have enough time in my day or space in this blog to elaborate on them.
Brad thoroughly enjoyed his One on One Punting Lesson back in 2008 and our relationship started to grow. In 2009, Brad then attended my PRO Development Camp at Macalester College in Minnesota. There, he continued working on some basic fundamentals and was also exposed to some very good punters from around the country.
|Brad Nortman Spring Break Training in 2010 in Phoenix, AZ|
In 2010, I then received a call from Brad wanting to come to Phoenix, Arizona for a One on One Lesson during his families spring break vacation. Brad was improving overall, but he still had a slight tendency to crunch as you can see above.
|Brad Nortman in Summer of 2011 Works on Technique in Milwaukee, Wisconsin|
In the summer of 2011, Brad and I met up yet again for a One on One Punting Lesson in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to continue working on good fundamentals while stressing to stay upright. It was then that Brad was starting to hit some big time punts and there was no doubt in my mind that he had NFL potential.
Brad had a great four year career at U of Wisconsin, but his true NFL potential was not exposed due to the his team's high powered offense. Brad did not get a lot of chances to punt in the open field and as a matter of fact, he did not even have enough punting attempts to be ranked nationally.
Again, Brad found himself at a crossroad in deciding what was best for his future. Brad is smart enough that he could probably someday operate an NFL team, and his academics were opening up new opportunities to explore in the business world.
After the 2011 regular season, I began to push very hard for Brad to give playing in the NFL a shot. However, he was not very confident in his own abilities to play at the highest level of football and felt that business accounting was in his immediate future. As Brad and I continued to talk, I mentioned to him about coming to Phoenix to train in January and February for his Pro Day, but Brad had planned a business internship in Chicago and said that he wouldn't have time.
It was after Wisconsin's Rose Bowl Game that agents began to heavily pursue him. Everyone, including his college coaches, teammates, agents, family and myself all knew that Brad did in fact have NFL potential. Brad just needed some guidance from above.
|Drew Butler (Georgia) Randy Bullock (Texas A & M) and Brad Nortman|
Finally, Brad received an invitations from both the Senior Bowl Committee and the NFL Combine! Brad now felt he personally needed to go to find out if there was any possibility of making an NFL roster.
|Coach Zauner's One on One Students at NFL Combine|
Randy Bullock / Drew Butler / Coach / Kyle Martens / Carson Wiggs & Brad Nortman
In February of 2012, his agent Brooks Henderson sent him to Phoenix to get some more One on One Training to prepare for the NFL Combine.
|Coach Zauner Works with Brad Nortman on His Drop|
As Brad performed at the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine, he was getting more and more positive feedback from NFL teams. His agent was also a very big help and he was getting excited about the possibility of actually being an NFL punter.
|Brad Nortman Works on Nose Down Drop|
During our One on One Training Sessions to prepare for the 2012 NFL Combine in February, we worked on his drop technique, staying more upright, and punting up and through the ball. After five years of One on One Punting Lessons and training, I could see that Brad had worked to refine his technique and developed as an athlete to take his game to the next level.
As I have stressed several times before, improvement is a process and its not an overnight one.
|Brad Nortman Works on Punting Up and Through The Football|
The NFL Combine and Brad's PRO Day came and went. Brad was also part of private workouts from NFL teams, where some were good and some not so good. Brad had a four year resume of playing at U of Wisconsin and had some great highlights. Apart from Brad's performances, it was also the intangibles that he possessed in which scouts, coaches and GMs look for in a player that raised interest in him.
Before he knew it, it was April 28, and the big day had finally come. The 2012 NFL Draft took place and Brad was selected in the 6th Round by the Carolina Panthers!
Brad then reported to mini camp where coaches could get a better feel for his ability to overcome the stresses and challenges of being a professional football player. After his mini camp, Brad returned to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for another One on One Punting Lesson. It was then I could see his confidence level finally caught up to his talent and he had become the 'total package'. He then returned to the Panthers training camp to compete with NFL veteran punter Nick Harris for the starting job.
Last week, Brad called me to tell me that he had made the final roster cuts and was named the starting punter!
As Brad and I talked, he mentioned to me that was very grateful for not only helping in coaching him, but also for my guidance and support. Brad is the best person to tell you how he was so successful though his own 'Specialist's Path to PRO Football'. Click below to listen to Brad and other 2012 Draft Class Testimonials about working One on One Lessons with Coach Zauner.
Brad's success story is a good one, but the one thing I always say is 'Coaches Coach and Players Play'. Brad deserves all the credit for his hard work and accomplishments he has received. I am looking forward to working with Brad as he moves forward with his punting career and transitions from a being an NFL rookie to a NFL veteran for many years to come.
It's success stories like this and players appreciation that keep me coaching! Best of luck to Brad and his Carolina Panther teammates this upcoming season.
|Brad Nortman (U. of Wisconsin) at 2012 Senior Bowl|
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