Cats continue to court kickers, punters

Already having landed kicker Jeff Budzien this year, Northwestern is on the prowl for additional firepower for its special teams. Florida punter/kicker Michael Palardy became the most recent special teamer to receive an offer from the Cats, who have now joined perennial powers LSU, Alabama, Miami and others in pursuit of Palardy.

In its ongoing quest to lure some special teams help in 2010, Northwestern has joined the hunt for Michael Palardy, a punter/kicker from Fort Lauderdale's St. Thomas Aquinas High School.

The Wildcats recently added themselves to a list of more than a dozen schools – including the likes of Miami, Alabama, LSU and Tennessee – that have offered Palardy a scholarship, according to BIGFoot Kicking coach Tim Conrad.

"Michael picked up two offers by Big Ten schools over the past (few weeks)," said personal kicking coach Tim Conrad. "Purdue and Northwestern offered, pushing his offer list up to 14."

The 6-1, 170-pound Palardy blasted 98 percent of his kickoffs for touchbacks during his junior campaign last season. He had a long field goal of 43 yards and nailed 76-of-78 PATs.

Needless to say, a bevy of teams are trying to get a leg up on his big leg.

"Palardy is on the road the next (few days) days making unofficial visits to Tennessee and Alabama," Conrad said. "He will cut down his list next week when he gets back. He will continue to make unofficial visits over the summer, and he intends to take all five of his official visits in the fall."

The Wildcats seem to be zealously pursuing some special teams firepower. NU recently received a commitment from class of 2009 kicker Jeff Budzien of Hartland, Wisc. In addition, the Cats have offered a scholarship to Will Hagerup, a highly-regarded punter also from Wisconsin, as well as Michigan punter Mike Sadler, who is being courted by LSU and Alabama, among others.

Punting duties will be handled this season by junior Stefan Demos, while a trio of kickers will vie for playing time: Budzien, redshirt freshman Steve Flaherty and incoming freshman walk-on Brandon Williams.

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