Published Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 8:46 pm / Updated at 10:21 pm
FOOTBALL
Maher hoping preparation pays off during combine
NFL Combine
When: Wednesday to Feb. 26
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis
TV: NFL Network

Former Midlanders participating in the NFL Combine:
>> Running back Rex Burkhead, safety Daimion Stafford and kicker Brett Maher are former Huskers participating.
>> Ex-Hawkeyes Micah Hyde, a safety, and quarterback James Vanderberg, as well as Iowa State linebackers A.J. Klein and Jake Knott and Chadron State offensive lineman Garrett Gilkey also will participate.

The past already includes 27 football games as Nebraska's kicker and punter, and two selections to All-Big Ten teams.

The future holds graduation in May, his wedding in June and hopefully the start of an NFL career.

So Brett Maher has his perspective to keep from making too much of the day when he kicks at the NFL Combine.

“I just want to go out there and have a good day, hit the ball like I know I can and see where it all falls,” Maher said. “I feel like I'm going in prepared and I'm just excited to have that opportunity.

“It'll be unique. But at the same time, when it comes down to it there'll be a snapper and a holder and myself, and I'll just go out there and try to get it through the uprights.”

Maher, I-back Rex Burkhead and safety Daimion Stafford are the only former Huskers heading to the combine, with Maher the first to arrive Wednesday. After some physical testing and meetings with NFL personnel and scouts, the Kearney High graduate will work out with a dozen other kickers and punters Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Maher realizes it's a chance to show his distance, accuracy and consistency in front of a large and important audience. But his résumé already includes his success as a Husker, and he will also kick at NU's pro day March 7 and likely in some individual workouts for teams closer to the NFL draft.

That's kept him from stressing too much on how he'll be compared in Indianapolis to other kickers such as Jeff Locke of UCLA, Caleb Sturgis of Florida, Dustin Hopkins of Florida State and Quinn Sharp of Oklahoma State.

“There is definitely some pressure with it,” Maher said. “But I've had days here at Nebraska when I've had a lot of pressure on me — championship games and conference games and playing against big rivals. I don't look at it as something that's so scary or something that's going to determine my fate.”

Maher also is somewhat at ease because of his preparation since the Huskers' season ended at the Capital One Bowl.

The 6-foot, 185-pounder has been working out five days a week under the tutelage of Nebraska strength and conditioning coach James Dobson, along with taking some yoga classes. He has been kicking three days a week in the Hawks Center, with snaps from former teammate P.J. Mangieri and holds from NU assistant director of football operations Jake Wesch.

Also, Maher traveled to South Carolina recently to work with Fred Pinciaro, a kicking coach whose list of visitors also includes former Husker and current Cincinnati Bengals kicker Josh Brown, as well as Shayne Graham, Connor Barth and Neil Rackers.

Maher made that connection through his agent, Robert Roche of RSR Sports Management.

“It was awesome just to have another set of eyes just to see what's going on, and from a guy who's seen a lot of guys kick at a higher level,” Maher said. “He didn't try to change me or anything, just gave me some minor details to work on or think about.”

At Nebraska, Maher made 39 of 50 field goals after replacing Alex Henery, the fourth-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011. He also averaged 43.2 yards per punt the last two seasons.

Maher has shelved most of his punting practice to focus on place-kicking and kickoffs the last six weeks, a lightening of the workload that he also believes will have him at his best for NFL scouts.

“Hopefully they realize how high my ceiling is,” he said. “I'm excited about where I am. I'm excited about how I feel and how I'm kicking.”

Maher was having lunch with his family in Orlando the day after the Capital One Bowl when he looked at his phone to find his combine invitation emailed from the NFL. Maher had hoped it would come but also didn't want to take it for granted when so few kickers are called.

“I was just excited and ready for another opportunity,” he said.

Contact the writer:

402-444-1042, rich.kaipust@owh.com, twitter.com/RKaipustOWH

Contact the writer: Rich Kaipust

rich.kaipust@owh.com    |   402-444-1042    |  

Rich Kaipust is a staff writer for The Omaha World-Herald and covers Nebraska football and some general assignment tasks, including the College World Series and U.S. Olympic Swim Trials.

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