Zuerlein’s leg steals show at area pro day

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Griffon kicker Greg Zuerlein displayed his talents in front of a group of NFL scouts and special teams coaches during the second annual Missouri Western pro day at Griffon Indoor Sports Complex. The event featured 30 other area NFL hopeful position players working out in front of the scouts.

“Every player had their chance to perform, and I felt like today was a good day for me,” Zuerlein said. “This is for your future and something that you have looked forward to doing your whole life. It’s a little nerve-wracking, but it’s better to be in this situation and have the opportunity that I have instead of not.”

The scouts already know about Zuerlein’s strong leg as he nailed an NCAA record 9-for-9 field goals from 50-plus yards, including two 58-yard field goals. The only variable that remains is how Zuerlein will perform in front of NFL-sized crowds of 60,000-plus compared to MIAA crowds of around 6,000 fans.

“For me as a kicker, I don’t think it matters from Division I to Division II or NAIA for that matter,” Zuerlein said. “Kicking is kicking. The field goal posts are the same, and you aren’t going up against any harder competition. It’s you versus the goal post.”

Zuerlein connected on all but one of his field-goal attempts, missing one from 48 yards. The deepest kick he made was 52 yards, and he didn’t attempt to kick from longer than that. He was very impressive warming up before the show started, nailing no-step and one-step kicks from deep straight through the uprights.

“As a kicking coach, I like to hear the football,” special teams coach Jay White said. “He has the sound, the explosive live foot, that ball explodes off of his leg. It’s up quick, that leg speed where the ball explodes and goes straight up through the uprights is definitely something that he has over a lot of other kickers.”

The workout concluded with Zuerlein practicing kickoffs from the 35-yard-line, where he sent an impressive 12 out of 16 into the back of the end zone. Three of his kickoffs were so high that they got caught in the ceiling and never came down.

“We have a 70 foot ceiling in here, and he’s kicking it up into the rafters; that’s all good stuff,” White said. “I think they were very pleased with him.”

The Vikings special team coordinator watched Zuerlein kick in a one-on-one workout a couple of weeks back and described it as the most impressive kick off workout that he has been a part of, according to White.

Zuerlein is projected by several sources as one of the top two kickers available in the ’12 NFL draft along with Georgia’s Blair Walsh. ESPN NFL draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. projects Zuerlein as the best kicker in the draft. The chances of him getting drafted as a late-round selection are high.

“I don’t know if I will get drafted. If I do great, if not, hopefully I have an opportunity to kick at some point or at least be brought in a show what I can do,” Zuerlein said.