Brubaker to test slim-and-none theory

Mark Brubaker is a practical man. The rookie free-agent kicker knows that no matter how many awards he won at East Stroudsburg University, and no matter how many records he set there, he will always ...

... have a stigma attached to his name: Mark Brubaker -- a kicker from a Division II school.

Brubaker is also a pragmatic person by nature. While he knows that the chances of a kicker from a Division II state school making the Pittsburgh Steelers lie anywhere between slim and none, he also knows that the facts are indisputable when it comes to kicking a football.

"Fifty yards is 50 yards no matter where you kick it," Brubaker said. "If you can kick the ball you can kick the ball and thats the bottom line. Fifty yards is 50 yards and elevation is elevation.

And making the Steelers' 53-man roster out of training camp might not be realistic goal for the 6-foot, 180-pound 22-year old, but it also isn't his main objective. When training camp rolls around at the end of July, Brubaker wants to see if he really can be a legitimate professional kicker not to see if he can beat out Jeff Reed.

"I am just trying to see where I stand in terms of the NFL," Brubaker said. "I am from a Division II school so I really am not sure what Division I is all about. When I came in I just want to see if I can compete at the same level. I feel that I am pretty close but I do have a lot to work on to get where Jeff Reed is."

Brubaker has the leg and the numbers in college to suggest that he can make a living in the NFL.

At East Stroudsburg, Brubaker was a four-time All-Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference selection and a key part in ESU's run to the NCAA Division II semifinals this past year. He made an East Stroudsburg record 74 of 79 extra points and was 14 of 19 on field goals during his senior year.

For his career, he made 39 of 58 field goals and converted 170 of 189 extra points for a total of 287 career points, all East Stroudsburg records.

Brubaker wasn't even thinking of a possible professional career until after he made all-conference for the third time his junior year. That's when he started to hear from others in the game that he might have a chance to play professionally.

"I had a real strong year," Brubaker said. "Going into my senior year I was one of maybe a handful of people who made all-conference every year and when I got all-conference for the fourth year a lot of teams were telling me they might be seeing me on Sundays. At that point I started to realize that I did have a chance that maybe I can play in the NFL."

Being a Steeler just may help him. Last year Shaun Suisham was signed as a rookie free-agent kicker out of Bowling Green days after the draft. While Suisham was one of the Steelers' first cuts out of training camp, he was signed by Dallas at the end of October and kicked in two games. He's still on the team, although the Cowboys signed Mike Vanderjagt in the off-season.

That's the kind of success story that gives Brubaker a wedge in the slim-and-none theory.

"You never know who is watching, you never know who might go down," he said. "This is big time right here, this is the real deal. This isn't Division II anymore. I have to get my foot in the door somewhere and this happened to be the place. Everybody wants to start but if the worst thing that comes out of this is that I get to train with Jeff Reed, it will be well worth it."

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