March is a busy month for many NFL Draft Eligible Collegiate and Free Agent Kickers, Punters and Snappers. It's the month for Pro Days (for college Seniors and Juniors entering the NFL Draft) and Kicking Pro Camp Tryouts. One of our assistant coaches, Jordan Wettstein, who has coached with me at Special Teams Football Academy for two years now, is pursuing his dream of trying to make the NFL. It's been a pleasure to have him assist me at camps and clinics, and to mentor him as he pursues the next level. Tonight we take a few minutes to sit down with Jordan Wettstein to find out more about his unique route to earning the starting Kicking role with the Minnesota Gophers and his path to the NFL.
You have a unique nontraditional background on how you became a kicker, in that you never kicked a football in high school and decided to give it a try in college. Tell us more about your sports background in high school and what made you decide to try kicking a football?
I was a three sport athlete at De Pere High School. I did soccer, basketball, and golf. Unfortunately, I tore my ACL my junior year and broke part of my heel my senior year playing soccer, so I missed the last two years of basketball due to injuries. For whatever reason, I have always wanted to kick a football growing up. My dad and I would kick at a local middle school every summer growing up. I participated in many punt, pass, and kick competitions and always enjoyed those growing up as well. I have always had a strong leg and it was just something that I have always wanted to try. I love watching the ball go through the uprights.
|Jordan celebrates after a Game Winning Field Goal against UNLV|
You had an unusual way of walking on with the University of Minnesota Gophers. Tell us how you went about convincing your coach for a tryout?
I had no intention of going to school to play on the football team, much less actually kick in any games. I never got the chance to play football in high school, so the day before I left for Minnesota I made a highlight tape of myself kicking out at De Pere High School. I brought that the tape with me to college the next day. I dropped it off at the football recruiting office and got a call back later that week. I came into kick for three different coaches the first two weeks of school. They told me they were set for kickers for the 2008 season, but extended me an invitation to join the team the following spring. I came back to work out and kick for the coaches again the start of the 2009 spring semester and was offered a spot to walk-on to the team as a kicker. I was very fortunate to be at the right place at the right time.
How long did it take you before you earned a spot on the team?
Being a walk-on kicker, you have to earn your right on the team. Never kicking in high school or college before, you have to prove yourself to the other guys on the team. To me, I earned my spot when I started kicking in the games and giving back to the rest of the team. I learned from the kickers and punters before me what to do and what not to do, what worked and what didn't work. I spent two and half years trying to perfect the art of kicking to ensure I was ready for an opportunity that may or may not have come. Like I mentioned before when entering college, I was at the right place at the right time when the new coaching staff under Coach Jerry Kill came in to take over in 2011.
|Wettstein for 3.|
You got your first start as a Junior, what was that experience like playing on the field? Who did you play and how did you kick?
My first chance ever kicking was actually the game before I became the starting kicker. We played North Dakota State University, where I took two kickoffs later in the game because we were planning on using a surprise onside kick that I mastered if we were still losing. We never used the onside kick, but saved that for the following game against Iowa. It was against Iowa in which I got my first career start. We started the game by kicking off. As I ran over to the sidelines, Coach Kill asked me how I was feeling and I responded by telling him I felt good. He replied, "Well good, because Chris (the starting kicker for the first half of the 2011 season) can't kick today (he was having a problem with his kicking leg for a while) so you are doing field goals too." I was shocked and stunned. I had never kicked in a game, much less thrown into one like this before. I made my first career field goal of 28 yards and hit the surprise onside kick the helped us go down and score a touchdown to win the game against the Hawkeyes. It was an awesome experience and one that I will never forget.
You started your whole senior year, what was that experience like?
It was awesome to say the least! You don't really appreciate everything you are given at Minnesota until you are done playing. The coaching staff and program did so much for me and the rest of the guys that I can't ever thank them enough! Every week was a new experience. Playing at all the different stadiums was really neat too. Personally, I didn't start the season as I would have hoped, but finished strong. The bowl game in Texas was an awesome way to end my four years of being on the team. Playing football for the Gophers is something I will be thankful for the rest of my life.
|There is no place like HOME (TCF Bank Stadium).|
What are a few of your favorite memories from playing for the Gophers?
I have a few favorite moments from the past couple of seasons. In 2011, helping win the Floyd of Rosedale Pig from Iowa was definitely an awesome moment. Scoring a touchdown on a fake field goal against the Wisconsin Badgers was really cool too! The bowl game my sophomore and senior year are times I will never forget. Watching Eric Decker play when I was on the team was also something I will never forget.
You are now pursuing the NFL, what is your training regimen like?
It is a lot different not having to worry about school work and tests like I did when I was in school studying. Training is like a part-time job now. I work out at a facility in Green Bay called Aurora under a program called the Athletic Republic. My trainer, Andy Krautkramer, has done so much for me the past two months. I can't thank him enough. I work with him five times a week, for two-three hours a day in the morning. My workouts are specifically set up to target muscles I use in kicking. It is a lot of quick twitch muscle and endurance training, and explosive movement type lifts. I kick two times a week into a net that is lowered at the facility where I train. We also incorporate water workouts into my training. I do speed work on a interval training treadmill, which has really helped on my kickoff distance. One thing that has also helped quite a bit is using specific band that is made for resistance training in kicking. Andy and I use that twice a week as well.
You got your first taste of professional football signing with the Arena Football team, The Green Bay Blizzard, how would you describe your Arena experience?
It has been a great experience thus far. It is definitely different than college football at Minnesota, but I am very thankful for the opportunity to continue to kick and be a part of a team that enjoys to play the game of football. We are not getting paid anything like the professional athletes do, so it is rewarding being around guys that want to be there to continue to play. The program really focuses on striving to go 1-0 every game. We have struggled a little bit at the start of the season, but know that we will turn some heads here the next couple of weeks. The guys on the team and the coaches are really great so far. I look forward to what is to come.
|Jordan kicking for the AFL Green Bay Blizzard.|
What is the biggest adjustment you have made for arena football?
There are three big adjustments I have had to make in order to become successful at kicking in the arena league. First, the goalposts are half the width of what they were in college. They are a little over 9' wide, so you really have to focus on hitting a perfect ball every single time. Second, the ball is a rubber like ball compared to a leather ball we used in college. It is a little smaller, so you have to adjust to the sweet spot on the ball a little bit more. Lastly, you can't kick the ball more than 60 yards because it will fly over the walls on kickoffs and the opposing team will start with the ball on the 20-25 yard line. There are a lot of different squib/knuckle style kicks that I have had to learn in order to keep the other team off guard.
|PAT against Illinois|
How was your Pro Day at Minnesota the first week in March?
I hit the ball best I ever hit field goal wise. I only missed the last kick which was 50 yards (I pushed it to the right). I finished the day going 11-12. My kickoffs went well too. I hit my onside kick perfect too. I was able to get some great film of it as well. There were a couple of other guys that did pretty well from my team in other positions at the Pro Day. A number of NFL Scouts attended the Gopher Pro Day, so I am excited to see what will happen with all of us Gophers. Overall, it was an awesome opportunity and hopefully I can get invited for a workout somewhere down the road.
|Special Teams Football Academy coaches (left to right- Jordan Wettstein, Chris Husby, and Ryan Coleman).|
Over the last few years you have been helping coach with me at Special TeamsFootball Academy, what have you enjoyed most about helping train aspiring kickers?
The thing I have enjoyed most the past couple of years is seeing guys develop into great kickers and fantastic young men. It is really rewarding to give back everything I have learned over the years to try and help these guys make their dreams come true to kick in college someday. I love helping out at the camps and seeing the guys/girls come back using what we have taught them before so we can continue on in order to help them kick/punt better.
|Coaching at the STFA Winter Clinics|
Many people say that they get better as a kicker once they start teaching, what are a few things you’ve learned about yourself from coaching?
I have learned that everyone is different in everything they do, including kicking. Being able to understand each person and work with them in their own individualistic way has really helped me have a great appreciation for each person I help. I have been able to see my patience continue to grow and my passion for kicking grow deeper as I help with each camp we do. I have learned to appreciate the time people have taken with me to learn everything I know about being a kicker in order to give back to others. It has been a very rewarding and experience for me and I have to thank Chris Husby and Special Teams Football Academy for that.
|Coach Husby & Jordan Wettstein after a Gopher Home Game.|
This week Jordan heads out to the Husted Kicking Pro Combine in Miami, Florida to compete against a number of Draft Eligible Kickers and NFL Free Agent Kickers.
2012 U of MN Highlight Film
We want to wish you good luck as you pursue your NFL Dreams and look forward to having you coach at our Summer Camps here in the Midwest.
Coach Chris Husby
Professional Kicking Coach and Owner
Special Teams Football Academy
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Professional Kicking Coach and Owner
Special Teams Football Academy
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