On the verge of breaking sectional records and even records that stand for the entire state of California, you don't have to wonder if kicker, Jordan Congdon is good.
Missing extra points about as often as Brett Favre misses football games, this prolific prep has drawn his share of attention. It's attention that according to at least one is more than well deserved, because for him, Jordan is the best he's ever seen.
"He just does things that very few kickers can do." Evan Arapastaphis said and Even Arapastaphis would know. Well, just what being the best looks like. Being a kicking coach that has run a kicking camp for 20+ years and put no less than 16 separate players into the NFL, Evan has a solid grasp on what makes a solid kicker.
Perhaps his greatest notch on the belt, however, is being the off-season kicking coach for one of the NFL's all-time most prolific kickers, John Carney. After seeing guys like Carney and the myriad players he's put into a variety of professional leagues, Arapastaphis reiterates, "He's the best I've ever seen."
Congdon himself is quite aware of what he can do, but if there's one person that will tell you that it's anything other than what it is, it's him. He's a kicker and regardless of their obvious value, his humbleness is very much intact. "I don't get it when a kicker gets kind of cocky." Jordan said. "For me, the position makes you humble."
Regardless of his lack of self-adoration, it was coming in bunches from others all over the country. Aside from the written offers he received from the Huskers and the Aztecs of San Diego State, Congdon had been receiving attention from the likes of USC, UCLA, Washington, Oregon and so on.
You might ask yourself why Congdon, if he is indeed so good, where were the bevy of offers that would seemingly substantiate that apparently greatness.
Arapastaphis had a good answer for that. "They don't get it." He said of the schools not offering Congdon. "They see these big legs and think that's what a great kicker is and nothing could be farther from the truth. I have been doing this too long not to know the difference between what works and what doesn't and what Jordan does is how you are supposed to kick."
What Evan said of Jordan that sets him apart from so many is a problem you see every single year. Bad snap equals bad hold – Bad hold equals bad kick and bad kick means you might have just lost the game for your team.
For Arapastaphis, he stated that he's seen 6 players total in his life that can do something the great kickers can do. That's Congdon included amongst them. "He can adjust on that last step." He said. "He sees that ball and while almost every kicker out there once they get into that last step, that's pretty much it, Jordan can still adjust to the ball."
"You give me a perfect snap and hold every time and I can stick a monkey out there and have some success. It's the ones that can adapt to the bad balls and still get it through the uprights that are the big-timers that have solid futures."
Jordan might attribute his heavy background in Soccer for much of his kicking prowess. He might even cite his work ethic and say that hours upon hours of practice and hard work were the end-all-be-all of his success. Well, yes of course, those have a definite factor in what he's managed to do, but there's also something else that's just as important as the rest. It's called "ice" in the veins. "Evan probably said it best of being a kicker." Jordan said. "You are an individual playing a team sport. Yeah, you have guys holding for you, snapping the ball and blocking, but once that ball is there, it's just you."
"You have to like that kind of pressure or you won't be successful."
San Diego State saw that in Congdon as did Nebraska and if you were to think that the local school would have an advantage, that would only be common sense. As Jordan's mom (Gayla) said of the distance Nebraska was away from their home, that was actually in the Huskers' favor. "We just though that Jordan needed to experience a different culture or different type of life." She said. "We know he'll make good decisions, so you want him to go out there, broaden his horizons and see what other parts of the country have to offer."
"It was just a way to experience another lifestyle and I think that's going to be just great for Jordan in the end."
The change in geography suits the younger Congdon as well. "That was one of the reasons I didn't want to go to State (San Diego)." He said. "I didn't want to stay home, I wanted to get away. My family is from west Texas and I think the southwest is a lot like the midwest. I think the people are very similar."
"I think I fit into that kind of culture very well."
Forget about Geography for a second though and let's put aside the fact that Nebraska is one of the major programs in the country. There are more profound reasons as to why Congdon chose NU over any other choice he might have.
"They get it." Gayla said of Nebraska's coaching staff. "They understand what good kicking is all about. It's not about the 60 yard field-goal, because how often do you kick one of those. It's about hitting all of your extra points. It's about being accurate in situations that kickers are used to. Jordan has a great leg, but he's a great kicker and sometimes I think people confuse the two."
"Nebraska understands that, which means they coach the way we like and it's the way we know Jordan is only going to get better."
All great athletes want to get better, but you might be surprised that after his visit to Nebraska, what Congdon thought he needed to work on the most. No, it wasn't his technique to the ball, how quick he gets to the ball or even if he's got his head down all the way through the delivery.
He wants to be lean.
"They have a nutritionist and that was what he was talking about." Jordan said. "In their weight program and in their eating, they want you to get as big as possible, but at the same time, stay as lean as possible. They want you to have the right kind of weight."
"As a kicker, if you are leaner, your leg-speed is better and your core strength comes from your abs, so if you are leaner, you are a lot stronger out there."
I doubt the Nebraska coaching staff will be putting the onus on Congdon to tackle after he kicks, but you can bet that there's pressure for Congdon to kick, but not necessarily in a few years.
You see, the NU kicking game hasn't exactly been stellar thus far. From returns for touchdowns, muffed punts and missed field goals, the team that was once perennially one of the best special teams' schools out there has been really anything but.
Because of that, Congdon has been given every indication that he'll have an opportunity to do what he does best and do it right away. Or at least, that's the message he's receiving from the coaches. "Well, because they offered me a scholarship, that tells me they want me to compete for a job, but they have a solid kicker in David Dyches and I will have to beat him out to play. The coaches know that and they will give the job to the best kicker."
That kind of pressure would make many wilt, but would also make some drool. Congdon, though? He's a kicker. Pressure isn't a thing to him. "There's pressure everywhere, so this isn't really anything new to me." Jordan said.
It's part of the package and that's what Jordan chose Nebraska for in that this was the whole package deal. Combine that with his desire to go into broadcasting and the fact that he said he found Nebraska's school for that area to be one of the finest in the country.
That's the tangibles though, but just as important for Congdon and one of the other main reasons he decided ultimately on NU was for those things that you simply can't put in a media guide or engrave on a plaque. Those are the things you have to see in person to believe. "I had some questions about the rest of the coaching staff, those coaches that I hadn't met yet." He said. "I got to meet them and talk with them a lot and that was just awesome."
"I found out that they are all great people, they are awesome coaches and just the kind of people I want to play for."
Kickers are kickers. That is to say that when you need them, you want them to be perfect and when you don't need them, to some they don't even exist. Jordan Congdon is already enjoying more of a celebrity feel than he would have assumed to be possible.
Typical to his attitude, demeanor and mind-set towards his position, Congdon has some clear goals once he sets foot on the campus of UNL. While modest almost to a fault, even Jordan conceded that modesty doesn't win jobs, rather going out there with the attitude that it is your job to take. Now, you just have to do it. "I definitely want to go in there and start my first year." He said. "The awards would be great like freshman all-American or something like that, but I'm really looking forward to just doing the job."
"First thing is first though. I have to get out there, then I have to do my job and I have to focus on the season and after that, if I've done what I am supposed to do, those things will come."
Jordan Congdon isn't someone that will sit in awe when he hears the word "Husker". While he's admittedly looked at them since his Sophomore year as a school he'd like to attend amongst others, Nebraska has been simply what Nebraska has been, yet another school.
They are now THE school for him and a place where he'll find the pressure he likes and the situations all kickers love so much. The game on the line, the snap back to the holder and the kick sails up and straight away. To some, that's a moment for heroism, rejoicing and reaping the good side of a position that often is laden with more chiding of your efforts than lauding your successes.
For Jordan, it's a moment for one thing and one thing only.
A look at the ball as it sails through, a slap onto the hands and helmets of those that helped to execute the play and a brisk jog back to the bench, anticipating opportunities to do the same.
Why nothing fancy? Why nothing extraordinary to enjoy these isolated achievments?
For Jordan, it's pure simplicity as he remarks, "Well, it's my job.".