Getting his Kicks

On break between NFL jobs, former Wisconsin kicker Taylor Mehlhaff is hosting a camp at the Dave McClain Center to help area kickers, punters and long snappers improve their skills to make the leap to the college level.

MADISON – Although he is currently unemployed, former Wisconsin kicker Taylor Mehlhaff is hardly taking any time off.

In the latter weeks of the 2009 Wisconsin football season, Mehlhaff was a fixture at Badgers' practices, spending time watching film with them and giving some helpful tips to benefit the kickers, punters and long snappers. While he didn't get too involved with the group in terms of trying to tweak or change their approach, the teaching bug started to make an impact with the former First-Team All-American.

"I've been approached by a number of different people in putting a camp together because there are a lot of people doing kicking and punting camps around the Midwest, but not in this area," Mehlhaff said. "The more I thought about it, I wanted to do it and decided to put it together."

After being mentored and currently trained by Ignacio Brache, Mehlhaff has decided to try and mentor high school kickers from the area, designing a camp geared toward kickers, punters and long-snappers. The first camp is scheduled to be held from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 31 at the McClain Center on the UW campus. Depending on the interest, Mehlhaff plans on doing other camps like this one around the area.

"Unfortunately, kids aren't really taught how to kick growing up in high school," Mehlhaff said. "When I was that age, I was just kicking it like a soccer ball. We are going to get simple points across that make them a better kicker and help guys reach their goals and get where they want to be. There are so many schools on all different levels looking for kickers."

As of last week, Mehlhaff has been contacted by a number of area coaches and parents about bringing their son to camp. The cost of the camp is $200 and the price covers camp instruction and drills, video analysis and review, strength and conditioning instruction and a camp T-shirt.

"I have a feeling we'll get a lot more in the next couple weeks and even some people showing up the day of the camp," Mehlhaff said.

According to Mehlhaff, the staff includes current and former NFL and Division I kickers, punters and long-snappers. While it's a small sample size, Mehlhaff's tips may have benefited sophomore kicker Philip Welch. After missing six of his first 13 attempts, Welch hit nine of his final 10 tries.

"I don't know if I was responsible because I didn't want to mess with them during the season, but I had a great time with it and really enjoyed it," Mehlhaff said. "I think those guys took stuff from it. It's always good for me to be teaching it and them teaching me with things for my technique. I enjoy stuff like that."

A two-time All-Big Ten performer, Mehlhaff ranks first in career extra point percentage (97.9 percent), second in Wisconsin history in scoring (295) and field-goal percentage (76.9 percent) and tied for second in made field goals (50).

Mehlhaff was a sixth round draft pick in 2008 by New Orleans Saints and appeared in three games, going 3-of-4 on field-goal attempts and 9-of-10 extra point attempts before being released. He signed a contract with the Minnesota Vikings prior to the 2009, but was released in training camp.

With few professional teams hesitant to sign a kicker, especially a left-footed one, midseason, Mehlhaff continues to kick and train, hoping to be a teacher and on an NFL roster at this time next year.

"I feel like it's a perfect thing for me now," Mehlhaff said. "I am a free agent and I hope to resign with an NFL team. It's a good gig for me to be doing right now."

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