LINCOLN, Neb. - After contributing on kickoffs in 2011, Mauro Bondi was asked a tough request in 2012. To head to the sidelines and redshirt – waiting his turn while senior Brett Maher handled all three phases of the game.
Bondi said it was tough, but the Florida native knew he would be the guy for the next three seasons if he waited.
Now it's 2013 and Bondi has another unique challenge possibly holding him back from being the guy.
Western Illinois kicker Pat Smith, a senior, decided to transfer to Lincoln to wrap up his college career. Smith went 10-for-10 on field goals in 2012, and earned finalist honors for the Fred Mitchell Award, an honor given to the nation’s top kicker at a non-FBS school.
“When I knew he was coming, I just focused on what I had to do. I couldn't control the way he kicks, so I just went out there and did my job to the best of my ability. It definitely brings out the best in both of us,” said Bondi.
So far, the competition has been stiff, with reports coming out of practice of very few misses.
“We usually get four to five a piece (team-setting) in the beginning or end of practice. It's a quick time. You have a short window to really get your opportunity to show the coaches what you can do,” said Bondi. “We are both focused when kicking, there really isn't any joking around between us. We both get along great. I think the competition just drives us both to be the best out there.”
The two take turns when kicking, but don't always know how the other did.
“Sometimes you look, you want to see what happens, but sometimes you don't,” said Bondi. “You want to watch the other guy, but you can lose focus on what you are supposed to be doing.”
Bondi knows whoever wins the battle, they will have huge shoes to fill with Nebraska's tradition at kicker of the past decade.
“There is a lot of tradition, which I find is another thing that motivates me,” said Bondi. “I want to continue that and that's why I came here, I want to continue the legacy."
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