Schlicher Prepared to be NFL Kicker

When he came to Iowa, Kyle Schlicher was following in the footsteps of all-American Nate Kaeding. Schlicher hopes those prints lead him to where his predecessor resides now, the NFL. Senior Writer Rob Howe caught up with Schlicher to discuss this weekend's NFL Draft and wrote about the senior in this Premium NFL Draft Preview.

Kyle Schlicher realized he was moving into the shadow of Nate Kaeding when he came to Iowa in the recruiting class of 2003. He accepted it and never minded being in it.

"The comparisons were going to be there and I knew it," Schlicher said. "I've never minded it because Nate is the best there ever was and likely will be at Iowa. He's the standard for me, not to beat but to mimic."

Kaeding will be entering his fourth season with San Diego this fall having earned a Pro-Bowl invite last season. The Chargers are happy they used the second pick of the third round to take the Iowa City native and signed him to a six-year, $12.2 million contract extension with a $2.5 million signing bonus last year.

Schlicher is preparing to be Iowa's next place kicker in the NFL and will find out his destination when the draft unfolds this weekend.

"I don't expect to be drafted," Schlicher said. "I didn't have a great senior year as compared to my first two years. I'm not sure how that might have affected my draft status, but I just want to be given an opportunity to kick." lists its Top 7 kickers, and Schlicher is absent from the list. rates eight kickers and again, no Schlicher.

"That's OK," Schlicher said. "I know there is some interest out there. I've always tried out well, and I think I'll have a shot to do that."

Jacksonville and Baltimore sent scouts to Iowa's Pro Day to work out Schlicher. He said all of his kickoffs carried hang times in the 4-second range and landed between the two-yard marker and the goal line. He was kicking from the 30 and using the NFL ball.

"They told me they were impressed," Schlicher said. "They, like all of the other scouts, feel like I'm fine with my field goals. They're not worried about that."

A chronic quad injury suffered throughout the '06 season also concerned scouts. But Schlicher rested the leg for two months after the season and showed he was fully healed during his workout for Baltimore and Jacksonville.

Schlicher injured the quad last August and it forced him out of the season opener against Montana. He gave the leg about a month to heal before coming back.

"Nothing against the younger kickers," Schlicher said. "But I was stubborn and I didn't want to miss any more of my senior season. I was about 85 percent for the Syracuse game."

Schlicher hovered around that percentage of full health for much of the season before tearing the quad during the first extra point against Wisconsin. He aggravated it further on the second attempt. He was sent in later to try a 57-yard field goal near the end of the first half.

"To tell you the truth, I was surprised I got it as close as I did," Schlicher said. "I was thinking that I could permanently hurt myself."

Schlicher didn't blame his injury for his less-than stellar senior season which saw him miss seven of 20 field goal attempts. He had been 17 of 21 as a junior and 21-26 as a sophomore.

"It was more mental than it was physical," Schlicher said. "I do think it impacted my performance, but I won't use injuries as an excuse."

When Kaeding was preparing for the draft, he and his agent targeted teams they felt might need a kicker. Schlicher and his agent are doing the same thing.

The key is to look at clubs with an old kicker that might be being overpaid or coming to the end of his career, or places where a younger kicker might have struggled last season. Baltimore fits into those parameters.

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