The AP gets it right with Henery
Alex Henery
Alex Henery

Posted Dec 14, 2010


The Big 12 never got it right, and the voters for the Lou Groza were somehow oblivious. But at least others figured out it, the most recent being the AP. Alex Henery, the most accurate kicker over a career in FBS history, was named first-team All-American along with cornerback Prince Amukamara.

I don’t even haveto ask senior kicker Alex Henery what he thinks about being named a first-team All-American by the AP.

He’d say something like “it’s pretty cool”, “It’s great” or maybe if he’s super blown away by the moment “Wow, that’s neat.”

That’s how he is, and I suppose that’s how most kickers have to be – even keel, almost robotic, that sort of thing.

Of course, there are those like the famed Gramatica brothers, who seemed about as even keel as a preschooler after 20 PEZ.

Not Alex though.

Sure, he showed some emotion after that legendary 57-yard field goal he made to beat Colorado two years ago. And yeah, he cracked a grin here and there when he kicked four field goals against Texas last year in the Big 12 title game, his 12 points the only scored by Nebraska in the contest.

But that’s about it. No jumping up and down like a maniac. No blustering about what he’s done, and it’s been a lot. Just Alex being Alex – delightfully boring to the last.

But how do you become the most accurate kicker in FBS history without even garnering first-team All-Conference honors? No, there’s no conspiracy here. Dan Beebe isn’t telling people not to vote for that scrawny Nebraska kid.

After all, the all-conference list is voted on by members of the media who cover the league. And it wasn’t just this year, but Alex’s entire career where most seemed oblivious to what this young man has done.

But get this, Brent Musburger, the longtime play-by-play guy, who sometimes gets hacked on a bit for his uber-melodramatic style of calling a game – said that Henery was the best kicker he’s ever seen.

Special Teams Coach John Papuchis recalled a time in that conference title game against the Longhorns, where Alex hadn’t even trotted onto the field for an attempt of over 40 yards, and Papuchis was already planning the coverage on the kickoff that obviously could only happen if he didn't make good on the attempt. “It didn’t even occur to me that he’d miss it,” Papuchis said. “He’s Alex Henery.”

Amukamara is a great story as well, as this is a young man who didn’t even want to  play defense a few years ago, and Secondary Coach Marvin Sanders helped him to become an All-American.

Who does that? Who can do that?

Sanders, apparently.

Of course, Prince had something to do with it himself. And it’s another credit to the AP that they saw past the fact that the senior corner didn’t have an interception. You have to throw his way in order for that to happen, eh?

Justin Blackmon notwithstanding

But while Amukamara made Mel Kuyper’s big board at the beginning of the year as one of the top defensive players in the country, Henery has gone almost anonymous, it seems.

And despite the justified honor by the AP, he’ll seemingly go anonymously into the history books, not just the most accurate kicker ever, but also as the all-time scoring leader at the University of Nebraska.

I remember when punter Sam Koch had a similar situation. He wasn’t comparably as dominate as Henery, who is a fine punter in his own right. But he was certainly one of the nation’s best his senior year. Yet he too, went basically unnoticed until the NFL Draft, where he was the first punter taken.

My guess is that when it comes to kickers in this upcoming year of picks for the pro league, you will see something similar. No, I don’t expect a team to draft him in the first round, ala the Raiders picking Sebastian Jankikowski. The former Florida State kicker never made one from as far away as Henery during his college career, and he seemed to make as much noise off the field as he did on it.

Something you have never seen from Henery, and I would wager a lot that you never will.

Part of me wishes that he would have been at least a little more vocal. Sometimes, if you want to get the media’s attention, you have to do something rather spectacular, above and beyond the actual performance on the field. But then we wouldn’t have the appreciation of Henery that we do – that this quiet Nebraska kid who came to be a Husker as a walk-on and went onto stardom after that.

Well, stardom in Lincoln anyway.

I would say to Alex that he should take a bow. He’s earned it. But I know he won’t, even during what I am sure will be a solid career in the NFL.

He’s Alex Henery.

‘Nuff said.

 



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