UMD's Next Podlesh? Rubinowicz On Board With Terps

Maryland has added a standout specialist to its class of 2015 crop. One of the nation’s top high school punters, Nick Rubinowicz from American Heritage High (Delray Beach, Fla.), committed to UMD following Terps head coach Randy Edsall’s scholarship offer Jan. 26.

Maryland has added a standout specialist to its class of 2015 crop. One of the nation’s top high school punters, Nick Rubinowicz from American Heritage High (Delray Beach, Fla.), committed to UMD following Terps head coach Randy Edsall’s scholarship offer Jan. 26. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Rubinowicz, who had several preferred walk-on opportunities from the likes of California, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech and others, will officially visit College Park, Md., Jan. 30. He wasn’t available for comment immediately, but one of his primary kicking coaches, Mike McCabe, chimed in.

“I just spoke to Nick’s parents, and they’re excited and fully committed with Maryland, and Nick is too,” said McCabe, who owns the website and has trained 13 NFL punters and plenty more at the Division I college level. “They think the Maryland staff is great, and they loved the head coach, and they’re proud to have their son part of the [UMD] program.

“Coach Edsall came down to give Nick the scholarship in person, and [the family] was thrilled. They’re fully on-board with what the coaches and program are about. It’s a great opportunity for Nick to show what he can do, and it’s great for him academically as well. Nick has like a 32 or 33 on ACT – that’s nuts (laughs), so the [academics] at Maryland were definitely something that was important to him.

“But it’s time to work now.”

Work shouldn’t be a problem for Rubinowicz, who has been training with McCabe, instructor Tony Bugeja and director Dan Lundy the last four years. Rubinowicz, who has worked alongside NFL punters like Pat O’Donnell (Chicago Bears) and Ryan Allen (New England Patriots), has put himself through a rigorous Monday-through-Friday routine that includes plenty of fundamental, technique and strength instruction.

The result?

Rubinowicz averaged 44.3 yards per boot, had a hang time of 5.0 seconds and consistently sent his kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks. After his senior year, he was named class 3A first-team all-state.

“This kid ..has a boom stick for a leg, he can put the ball between the numbers, and he can angle it out of bounds, which will make it hard to return and help his net [average],” said McCabe, who has trained the likes of all-pro Johnny Hekker, Ryan Allen, Ryan Quigley, Pat O’Donnell and others. “Plus he’s 6-4, 6-5, and that’s going to get you recognized. When you see a kid like that, and he has great work ethic -- he has an opportunity to punt against Pat O’Donnell when he’s in town -- it’s only going to make you better. And working with Coach Tony, he's an unbelievable coach, and really has done a great job with Nick.

“And just [Rubinowicz'] preparation. Nick had an OK junior year, but he really blossomed this summer and really put in the extra time. Punting takes so much drill work that guys will do drills real quick and then go right to kicking. Well, that’s not going to take care of the problems you need to correct to be a consistent punter. Nick really put in the extra time in the weight room and doing his drill work to be a consistent punter. And then just competing at a high level, it’s just going to get you there.

“Nick started with us his freshman year, and we pride ourselves in our training. Everyone is all about national ranks these days, and that’s great, but what kind of training are you going to do to get … to college? So that’s what we’re about, and Nick bought into it. We’re a hands-on team, and to his credit, Nick really took to it.”

McCabe went on to say Rubinowicz is kind of a cross between Allen with the Patriots and O’Donnell with the Bears. The American Heritage product is a bigger punter a la the Chicago booter, but his left-footed technique is similar to the New England Ray Guy Award winner.

Apparently that lefty technique can really separate punters as they advance through the ranks.

“[Kicking lefty], it’s a distance-rotation on the ball, and it makes it more difficult to catch,” McCabe said. “The angle is different, and you’ll see [returners] drop the ball on lefties because of that rotation. It bends differently.”

Rubinowicz isn’t just a specialist either. The coach also called him an “athlete,” because he’s played other positions during his career and isn’t afraid to stick his nose into a pile and make a tackle. On top of that, Rubinowicz plays basketball and dabbles in other sports as well.

It’s punting, though, where Rubinowicz has devoted the majority of his time of late. McCabe’s unconventional training methods include foghorns, spraying water, blasting music, putting a soccer goal post six yards in front of guys and having them punt over it … and plenty of screaming.

After all the daily drills, Rubinowicz and Co. will punt about 30 to 40 balls and kick off a couple times too, all the while making sure they don’t over-kick, which can lead to dead legs and muscle tears.

McCabe said Rubinowicz has excelled to the point where he can now be considered one of the country’s elite senior booters. But there are still a couple areas he needs to shore up before reaching UMD.

“We’re starting to work on getting Nick more power in his hips -- hip explosion. The taller you are the slower your leg speed is going to be, so that and explosion is very important,” McCabe said. “And also ball reception. Ball reception, you’ve got to be quick and fast and get it out because that’s what’s going to start your punt. The quicker you are into your ball reception, the more time you have to get into your punt and hit that perfect ball.

“But the big transition for Nick [at Maryland], is when you’re in a stadium of 60 to 80 thousands people, it’s either going to get you mentally, or you’re not even going to know [the fans are] there and you’re going to do your job. That’s a transition all young athletes have to go through.”

If Rubinowicz adjusts, well, maybe the Terps will have another Adam Podlesh on their hands.

Or maybe even a Ryan Allen or Pat O’Donnell.

“Oh yeah. If he stays strong and does what he’s supposed to do in terms of directional punting -- because he’s trained in that, which is great -- well, if he has a great college career, you could see him in the NFL one day,” McCabe said. “You’ve got a guy who is trained in all three areas [kicking, punting, kickoffs], and when you can give one paycheck for two positions -- punting and kickoffs -- well, that’s very valuable. Nick has that kind of potential. I’m looking forward to seeing him play next year and seeing how he develops at Maryland.”

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