Only five games into his rookie season, former Missouri Western kicker Greg Zuerlein has already proven to be one of the most dangerous weapons in the NFL.
Zuerlein is a perfect 13-for-13 field goals for the season, including breaking a Rams franchise record 58-yard kick in week four, and then broke his own record a quarter later by nailing one from 60 yards. Zuerlein is 5-of-5 from beyond 50 yards this season and last year at Western, he hit a perfect 9-for-9 from over 50. He hasn’t missed a field goal from over 50 yards since playing for Nebraska-Omaha in 2009.
For his display of leg strength in week four, Zuerlein was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week as he became the only player in NFL history to make a 50- and 60-yard field goal in the same game. In the week before that, his 56-yard make at Soldier Field in Chicago is the longest field goal ever made in the historical stadium. In short, Zuerlein’s NFL career has been completely perfect up to this point.
More than 27 million people are playing fantasy football this season in the United States, and the ones who have Zuerlein are winning. In the first week of the season, Zuerlein was only started by 6 percent of all owners and in week five, was in 89 percent of all starting lineups. His 13 field goals on the year ties him for the league lead and he ranks No. 7 in points scored in the NFL this season. The only reason why he isn’t first on that list is because the Rams aren’t scoring as many touchdowns as the other teams limiting Zuerlein’s extra point attempts.
“I’m not at all surprised,” Western quarterback and former teammate Travis Partridge said. “We expected it, honestly. We kind of laughed at people who didn’t, because we saw it all season last year.”
It’s hard for an NFL kicker to draw enough attention to garner a nickname, but Zuerlein has several as the nation has taken notice of his extremely powerful leg. Western takes credit for the original, Greg “The Leg”; Rams nation calls him “Young G.Z.,” like the platinum selling rapper Young Jeezy; and Bill Simmons, also known as “The Sports Guy” on ESPN, has named him “Legatron,” a play-on the leader of the Decepticons in “Transformers.”
Zuerlein’s success has prompted some high praise from running back and perennial team-leader Steven Jackson when he said that Zuerlein is the team’s most valuable player this season. Coach Jeff Fisher has confidence in Zuerlein any time that the offense crosses mid-field.
Not-so-coincidentally the Rams are off to their best start in recent memory at 3-2.