July 31, 2014

Former Nebraska kickers adjusting to a change in the NFL landscape for different reasons

Despite coming off one of the best years of his 12-year NFL career, former Nebraska kicker and current New York Giant, Josh Brown is playing for his NFL career as he kicks against free agent Brandon McManus, who was brought into camp as competition for the veteran.  McManus is Temple’s career leader in field goals and punting. He tried out with the Indianapolis Colts in training camp last season, but was passed over for veteran Adam Vinatieri.

“I’m not fully surprised by it,” Brown said. “It’s part of the business. I’m just a hired entity trying to keep up with the pace. I know I had a great year, one of the best years I’ve ever had. But that doesn’t mean anything now. I know what I can do. They (the Giants) have to do what they have to do.”

Last year Brown hit 88% of his kicks (23-26) and made all PATs.  He’s made 81% of his kicks that have covered the entire country from stops in Seattle, St. Louis, and Cincinnati, before landing in the Big Apple.

“I’ve missed one game-winner in 12 years,” Brown said. “I’ll take that. At the end of the day, I know I have a peace of mind that I can get the job accomplished.”

Former Husker Alex Henery is enjoying life inside the recently renovated Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles.  A $125 million Stadium Revitalization Project was completed to help improve the fans’ experience on game day, but it also helped out the kicker from Omaha.

Two corners of the stadium were closed in, changing the wind pattern.  In the past, the wind blew directly blowing into the stadium through those corner gaps, but now the stadium has more of a swirl effect, similar to most stadiums.  It is something that Henery is used to.

“It was pretty windy today, but it wasn’t affecting the ball flight as much as I thought it would,” Henery said, whose kickoffs were consistently reaching the end zone during Monday’s practice.   Henery set a team record and rookie NFL benchmark with a 88.9% field goal percentage after being selected in the fourth round of the 2011 draft and already owns two of the four most accurate seasons in franchise history.

Abdullah and Gregory named to Big Ten’s “players to watch”

The Big Ten Conference announced its fourth annual football Players to Watch list, with 10 players earning preseason recognition. The preseason Players to Watch list is selected by a media panel and consists of five student-athletes each from the East Division and West Division.

Nebraska and Wisconsin lead the way with two players each on the West Division Players to Watch list. Husker running back Ameer Abdullah and defensive end Randy Gregory are joined on the list by Badger running back Melvin Gordon and right tackle Rob Havenstein. Iowa offensive lineman Brandon Scherff rounds out the division’s honorees.

Representing the East Division are Maryland wide receiver Stefon Diggs, Michigan wide receiver Devin Funchess, Michigan State defensive end Shilique Calhoun, Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller and Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg. Miller was named to the Big Ten Football Players to Watch list for the third straight season.

The Players to Watch list includes the reigning two-time Big Ten Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year and Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year in Miller. Other individual award winners from last season to claim preseason honors include the Thompson-Randle El Freshman of the Year in Hackenberg, the Kwalick-Clark Tight End of the Year in Funchess and the Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year in Calhoun.

Abdullah, Calhoun and Scherff were each named All-Americans last season. All 10 players earned all-conference honors in 2013, including first-team accolades for Abdullah, Calhoun, Funchess, Gregory, Miller and Scherff.

The complete list of Big Ten football preseason Players to Watch:

Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland
Devin Funchess, WR, Michigan
Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State
Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State

Brandon Scherff, OL, Iowa
Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska
Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Rob Havenstein, RT, Wisconsin


NU’s Abdullah to speak at Big Ten luncheon

Big Ten Football Media Days kickoff in Chicago.

Ameer Abdullah will be the student-athlete speaker for Tuesday’s media days’ kickoff luncheon. The Nebraska running back led the Big Ten in rushing last season as a junior and passed up the NFL to return to college. He’s been quoted as saying “I have come to realize that life is bigger than football, and that my chances of long-term success in life will be greatly enhanced by completing my college education.” Great words for the student athletes to live by.

Abdullah was first in the Big Ten and seventh nationally in rushing at 130 yards per game (1,690 yards overall). A trio of Huskers are representing NU. In addition to Abdullah, wide receiver Kenny Bell and safety Corey Cooper will be on hand to answer question.

The Big Ten does not officially endorse a media preseason poll, but the beat writers get together and have picked Iowa over Nebraska in the West. Iowa returns several veterans on both sides of the ball. NU’s season could very well come down to November 15th at Wisconsin and then two weeks later in the season finale Friday the 28th at Iowa, two very difficult road games in the final three weeks of the season.

Abdullah on Doak Walker list

Nebraska senior I-back Ameer Abdullah has been named as one of the preseason candidates for the 2014 Doak Walker Award Thursday morning. The award is presented annually to the nation’s top college running back.

The 5-9, 195-pound Abdullah rushed for 1,690 yards in 2013, the most of any player returning for 2014. Abdullah owns 2,977 career rushing yards to rank third among active returning players in career rushing yards, and he leads all active players with 4,914 career all-purpose yards.

In addition to earning first-team All-Big Ten honors last season, Abdullah was one of 10 semifinalists for the Doak Walker Award. He is one of three 2013 Doak Walker semifinalists who are among the 2014 preseason candidates, joining South Carolina’s Mike Davis and Melvin Gordon of Wisconsin. Abdullah is one of eight Big Ten running backs on the watch list.

The semifinalists for the Doak Walker Award will be named on Nov. 18, and the Doak Walker Award National Selection Committee will narrow the list to three finalists by Nov. 24. The recipient of the 2014 Doak Walker Award will be announced live on Thursday, Dec. 11, on the ESPN College Football Awards show.

First eight Husker football games have times set

The 125th season of Nebraska football will kick off on Saturday, Aug. 30, when the Huskers play host to Florida Atlantic at Memorial Stadium. Game time has been set for 2:30 p.m. CDT with television coverage provided by BTN.  The Huskers stay at home in week two and will take on McNeese State in a game scheduled for an 11 a.m. CDT kickoff. The contest will be televised on ESPNU.

Updated Nebraska football schedule