The Home Stretch

With the NFL Draft days away, Iowa kicker Nate Kaeding found it tough staying seated when we spoke with him on Tuesday: "Growing up I was always the kind of kid that would go into the basement and snoop for Christmas presents a month early. So, you can only imagine what it's like sitting here waiting...and not really knowing what's going to happen. It's a tough week or two." Get the latest from Nate in another installment of his exclusive diary on HN.com.

The last time we spoke, you were anticipating the chance to visit some teams that were interested in you. Did that happen?

I didn't go. I had one scheduled down for a team, but they got a bunch of physicals for some guys (they were interested in) at the combine. They had to bring those guys in to do a secondary physical check on them with their own team physicians.

I didn't expect to go anywhere anyway because kickers usually don't go anywhere. Teams usually fly in the guys that they want to prioritize as free agents or guys that are projected first- or second-round guys.

I didn't really expect to go anywhere. To be honest with you, I was kind of surprised when the team called and wanted me to go down. I would have liked to go down there and meet with the staff and stuff, but that didn't work out.

I've just stayed around here. My agent has just been keeping me up to date on some happenings or just kind of some information that is flying by him. For the most part, I've just been refocusing on working out and getting ready for the minicamp.

What is the latest? What has your agent been hearing? What have you been hearing?

A lot of the information that I'm getting is good. As we talked about before, I'm kind of teetering on the Saturday-Sunday level; third-, fourth-round deal. Outside of that, it has basically been positive things. We're thinking that we're in the place right now where any team that really wants to make a move at me or really think they need me, which we have an idea is about two or three teams right now, they're running the risk of not getting me if they wait until Sunday to do it.

It's a matter of a team realizing that "Hey, we need to make an upgrade in our kicker or we need Nate Kaeding on our football team." If they really feel like they need that, the only safe and the only logical move would probably be to do it on Saturday. Hopefully, a team makes that kind of commitment to me. I would be ecstatic if it did come on Saturday, but nothing bad can come out of this weekend whether I go Saturday or Sunday. If I get on with a team and have an opportunity to earn a job, that's all that I can really ask for. This weekend is going to be a pretty special one.

How are you going to go through it? Are you going to stay away from the TV? Are you going to be with your family? What's your plan?

I'm planning on going golfing during the day. I'm not the kind of guy that can sit around and watch it. This has been kind of a tough week or two for me, too. I'm probably not going to watch it. I'm just going to keep myself busy and just hope for a call.

What do you feel in your gut as far as what is going to happen? Do you feel like Saturday is going to be the day for you?

Yeah. I don't know. I definitely want it to be. It's more of an ego thing than anything. Like I said, nothing bad can come. If I get picked in the third round by a team or fourth round by a team, nothing bad can come of it.

For me it's more of an ego thing than anything. You want to go in the third round, obviously. You're going to get paid more money in terms of your signing bonus and just the fact that not a whole lot of kickers go in that first day. It's just another thing where I feel as though I've put together a successful enough college career and I've done things on the field and off of the field respectable enough where I deserve that kind of pick. I stack up against every other football player in this draft as being good enough to deserve a pick in the first day.

Like I said, that's more of an ego thing. If it happens that I go on Sunday I'm not at all going to be disappointed. It's going to be a great day.

Are we still talking about pretty much the same teams being interested - Kansas City, San Diego, Jacksonville?

Yeah. From the information that my agent is getting, there are two or three of them that are really coming out right now. They're trying to put themselves in position to make a move whenever they see it's best for their team. It's good that there's more than one so that where there's kind of some competition between the two or three. The more competition there is, the more of a market there is.

Is there a chance that there are more teams interested that haven't shown their hands yet?

Exactly. That's something that we've been kind of looking at, too, a little bit. There's these teams, but you always hear about a guy that's gets a call from this team that he never even met with them at the combine or their coach never came in and worked him out. We've also heard of a couple of three teams around the league that also have a need for a kicker that have made a couple of moves here and there that could be in a position to just come in and come out of nowhere and pick me. There's still that uncertainty.

Where are you in your workout routine?

I took two weeks off right after that last individual workout (at the end of March). Now, I'm just starting to get ready and really working hard, lifting weights realy hard, to try to gain some strength. This week and next week I'll really get back into real fine tuning my kicking to get ready to go down to minicamp and hopefully make a good first impression.

Are you going pretty much every day now?

Yeah. I'm kicking four times a week and lifting four times a week and running four times a week. So, right now I'm really at the heart of my offseason conditioning.

Is it set up to peak right as you go into camp?

Exactly. This week is a real hard lifting week. The week before was a real hard lifting week. I'll kind of tone it down next week with the lifting and running and just focus more on kicking so my kicking is peaking at the right time. I get the strength built up this week and last week and next week I'll work on kicking.

Do you have a plan with how you're going to spend all of your new-found riches now that you're going to be changing from a poor college student to a NFL player?

Not really. I have a couple of meeting with some financial advisors so I know what to do with the majority of the money. I'm not the kind of guy that really feels like going out and spending right away. I'm going to put a vast majority of it away. But my parents and brother and sister have been real supportive with me. I feel I have something in my mind that I want to do for them, whether it be a trip sending them somewhere or doing something for them.

I'm selling a lot of my stuff right now. I sold my scooter, my car and all of this stuff is selling. Rick Smith, my agent is putting together some real nice endorsement deals. I don't have to buy a new automobile because I was forunate enough to get an endorsement deal with a local dealership. I've done some signings and other promotional stuff that has put some extra money in my pocket, too. I kind of use that endorsement stuff as extra money outside of what I'm going to make with the NFL team. I can kind of use that to play around a little bit.

Speaking of endorsements, I got to see your TV commercial for Krieger's. Have you seen it yet?

I haven't seen it play on TV yet. But I've had dozens of people come and talk to me about it.

What's the feedback been?

It's varied. For the most part, they get a kick out of it. Obviously, it's nothing too serious. I can only imagine what it's like having not seen it because I was there taping it. You see those local commercials playing. The big thing is that I feel as though I can be a spokesman for a comany like Krieger's down in Muscatine. I feel like I can get a little more name recognition for this company. I feel like I'm a respectable person. But yeah, the commercial is getting interesting feedback.

Have your teammates or coaches given you feedback?

Yeah, they're heckling me. My future team doesn't know though. I'll kind of keep that under the rug. But for the most part, it's been good. It's all part of it. I just king of laugh at it.


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