Pro Day Interview: Nate Whitaker

Former Stanford kicker Nate Whitaker had a fine showing in his Pro Day workout, making seven of eight kicks, including one from 56 yards out. Following his workout, Whitaker spoke with the media about his post-Stanford career.

You did pretty well out there it looked like?
Nate Whitaker: I did alright. I had a little pop on the ball. It's nice having a week rest and then coming out yesterday and getting my leg loose, I had some pop.

So what kicking drills did you do today?
NW: I just wanted to show that I had a big leg and that I was consistent. So I kind of started at the extra point line and went back five yards with every kick. I went back and forth between the hashes until 56 yards.

Right, I saw you made the 56 yarder. Did you miss any kicks?
NW: I believed I missed one from like 46 but then I came back from 51 and hit that well.

How many kicks in total did you make?
NW: Seven of eight.

Do you get any feedback, like whether you have a realistic chance of a team being interested in you or not?
NW: Yeah, you get feedback. You get feedback from your agent, you get feedback from guys coming up to you and saying things are looking good. But yeah, you get feedback. I've heard a lot of positive things so I'm staying optimistic. As a kicker, usually it doesn't work out right away. Hopefully it does, but you have to stay with it for a few years and keep training, get a job. It's the nature of kicking.

So what will you do? Do you have your degree?
NW: I'm getting my degree in June.

In what?
NW: Product design. It's in mechanical engineering. It's a fun major.

Do you have a backup plan? Who knows with the NFL lockout what's going to happen?
NW: I don't have a backup plan. I'm trying to stay on top of my school. I'm going to be a product realization lab t.a. next quarter, which is huge. That's helps out a lot in terms of getting a job and keeping my options open. I go to job fairs and give people my résumé and make contacts, so I'm trying to keep my options open. But I don't have a set backup plan. I haven't applied and gotten a specific job yet, but just keeping the doors open, keeping the connections open.

It sounds like you're going to potentially have to balance two things. One, finding a job or having a job, and also remaining a viable kicker for that time when an NFL team calls.
NW: Yeah, that's kind of what it's been like for this whole quarter. I've been looking for jobs and training and trying to keep school and all that balanced. It's been tough. I kind of wish I had the ability or option to focus solely on one or the other right now like some of the guys, but it's a good learning experience and it keeps you balanced. It's a good experience overall.

So what does happen if say next month you get a job lined up with a local company and then in April get drafted in the NFL Draft.
NW: I would be honest with the company going into it. There's a composites company down in San Diego that's been talking to me and they know the situation. I'd be honest and straight forward with them. I don't want to screw anyone over in this situation. They know that football comes first and if they hire me it would be a day-by-day basis type thing.

In terms of improvement, as a kicker, is it really just training yourself?
NW: A lot of it is training yourself and being able to coach yourself. But then my brother is a kicker and he coaches me. I work with John Carney in San Diego. I kind of bounce around from coach to coach depending on where I am. It's just a matter of finding a coach that's open. There are a lot of kicking coaches out there that are really set on one form, like they have their set idea of how you should kick. Personally, I don't think that's the best way to coach because every kicker is different. You can watch kickers in the NFL and everybody has a different form. So you just have to find a coach that's open to new things and tweaks little things to help you do well using your form. So coaching yourself and finding the right guy.

You mentioned you worked with John Carney down in San Diego, he's obviously a pretty big name in the kicking world. What specifically has he helped you with?
NW: Just being a friend. He went to school with my mom at Notre Dame and he just been someone I can talk to about anything. He's a great guy and I love working with him. Whenever I go down there I call him first thing and see what he's up to. He's more than just a coach, he's there to give me any advice he has on life. He went to Notre Dame and it took a few years for him to get in the NFL and once he got in, he did well. So he has experience that no one else has, I feel like, and he's just an invaluable resource.

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