LINCOLN, Neb. - It’s almost 9 p.m. on a Saturday following the Huskers 55-7 win over Florida Atlantic and time is being dedicated to the kicking battle.
True freshman Drew Brown’s debut almost had perfect conditions. Calm weather, perfect temps, and no pressure situation kicks.
The junior connected on all six extra point attempts, but his biggest effort came on a 44-yard field goal – there wasn’t ever any doubt.
“I tried to keep myself together. I didn’t try to worry about it too much. I tried to stick with my routine and do everything I do,” said Brown. “It was exciting. The fans were electric out there and there was a lot of pressure on each kick. It was good to get that out of the way. I feel like I kicked pretty well today and it’s something to build off.”
“Knocking that first kick and getting it off my shoulders and off my chest, it felt really good,” said Brown.
Brown, one of the nation’s highest rated kickers coming out of high school in last year’s recruiting class, has been in a battle with junior Mauro Bondi for the starting kicker job since the beginning of fall camp. Earlier this week, Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini called the two into his office. The plan was for Brown to start, but Bondi to get an opportunity.
“To be honest I wasn’t quite sure. Mauro had a great camp. I had a great camp. We were neck and neck the entire time,” said Brown. “It was pretty close the entire time. It came down to the last day.
“No hostility what so ever. We have been both very supportive each other…he’s a really good teammate.”
Brown, the younger brother of former Husker kicker and 12-year NFL vet Kris Brown, said the battle for the starting job has had it’s challenges. One of the biggest being the noise surrounding everything Husker football inside the state.
“Nebraska football is massive here. Everyone has their input,” said Brown. “I tried to stay away from it as much as I could, to just go into practice and kick everyday, but you hear a little bit about it to be honest. It really motivates you to be the guy out there.”
Brown has big shoes to follow if he holds on to the starting job, which all indications point to him doing just that. Over the last decade, Nebraska place-kickers have been one of the most accurate groups in the country.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to add my name to that list and create a name for myself,” said Brown. “Pressure is a good thing. It will either make you or break you. I like that added pressure because it brings out the best in me.”
Along the way, Brown has taken some advice from his brother.
“Kris’ biggest thing is stick with your routine and get the same thing down every single time you go out to kick – whether it’s an extra point or a 50-yard field goal,” said Brown. “You have to do the same thing every time so you are comfortable with it.”