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?
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?
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
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.