College: Missouri Western
From: Lincoln, Nebraska
Weight: 190 pounds
High School Career: Played at Lincoln Pius X High where he was an All State and All Class selection as a junior and senior as he set the state record for field goals in a season with 12...Converted 43-of-45 extra point attempts and was 12-of-16 on field goals with a long of 52…Was also an accomplished soccer player.
College Career: Began his career at the University of Nebraska-Omaha where he redshirted in 2006…In his first season at U.N.O., he set the school record with 46 consecutive extra points and was 10-of-15 on field goal attempts…continued success in 2008 when he ran his streak to 61 straight PATs and hit 9-of-11 field goal attempts…Transferred to Missouri Western when UNO shut down its football program after another successful season in 2009…Took a medical redshirt in 2010…In his first and only year at Missouri Western, Zuerlein racked up the awards as he was first team AFCA All American, Daktronics All American and AP “Little” All American as he led the nation in field goals per game and broke the NCAA and MIAA record with 21 consecutive made field goals. He twice hit from 58 yards out and was perfect on his nine tries from 50-plus yards.
Need to Know: After starting his career near his hometown of Lincoln at UNO, Zuerlein sat out a season with a hip injury and then had to transfer to Missouri Western. Strangely enough, the transfer was forced when UNO decided to make some cuts and one of those cuts was the football program. Zuerlein’s breakout season at Missouri Western made him the first non BCS Subdivision kicker to be picked since Stephen Gostkowski in 2006 and the first kicker below the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision since Paul Ernster in 2005.
He Said It:
“I think my mental approach to the kicking game (is important). A lot of kickers I’d say most kickers have the physical ability to kick 50-yard field goals because I’ve seen a lot of kickers do it. The side of the game that I feel like gives me a little bit of an extra edge that allows me to do that – because a lot of people have the leg strength – it’s just when they get back there it’s like, ‘Oh, that kind of far away.’ But it’s the mental side that gets you through that stuff.” – Zuerlein on what it takes to consistently make long field goals.
They Said It:
“(Special teams) Coach (John) Fassel went out and did private workouts with a number of kickers and punters and he came back and literally was blown away at the leg, the distance on the kickoffs and the distance and accuracy in the field goal game. Twenty three of 24 and nine over 50 yards, two over 58 in one game – that’s extraordinary. We felt like this was going to be a need. We need to upgrade the position so we couldn’t pass on this opportunity. And we’re glad we didn’t because you saw what Minnesota did right after (taking a kicker, also).” – Coach Jeff Fisher on the reasons for taking Zuerlein.
“He was nine for nine from 50 plus in bad weather. We’ll keep it at that.” – GM Les Snead on selecting Zuerlein.
Outlook: Will step in as the starting kicker from day one after the team parted ways with veteran Josh Brown.