The ninth installment of this sixth edition of the Better Know a Buckeye series continues with the lone special-teamer in this class. Sean Nuernberger, a kicker from Oldham County on the outskirts of Louisville, was a spot commitment for which there was not much to say about his recruitment.
Kickers and punters tend to have sui generis recruitments. Many programs prefer to save a scholarship for another skill-player rather than a kicker or a punter. Those positions get filled with walk-ons. Kickers and punters tend to go on collective tours of college campuses hoping that one from their ranks earns a scholarship offer.
Sean Nuernberger went this route. He arrived at Ohio Stadium where he kicked in front of Urban Meyer and special teams assistant coach and fire-breathing mascot Kerry Coombs. Coombs and Meyer invited him to kick again in front of them inside Ohio State's indoor facilities. Pleased with what they saw, they offered him a full ride athletic scholarship. Nuernberger left Ohio State that weekend, but not before accepting the scholarship offer before his departure. Nuernberger did not have much of a recruitment. Kickers do not tend to be subject to many recruiting write-ups or much fanfare on top of that.
Below, I skip additional details of Nuernberger's recruitment and proceed with a discussion of why he committed to Ohio State. Thereafter, I proceed in the usual fashion. I give a breakdown of strengths and areas of improvement for the future kicker at Ohio State before addressing the important question of a redshirt in 2014. I provide highlights and conclude with miscellaneous things about Nuernberger you may find interesting.
High School: Oldham County High School; Buckner, KY
His Recruitment and Commitment
On June 11th, 2013, Sean Nuernberger introduced himself to Ohio State fans by announcing he had committed to Ohio State as a kicker in its 2014 recruiting class.
It's done! Officially committed to play football for THE Ohio State University! #BUCKEYENATION
— Sean Nuernberger (@Sean4Heisman1) June 11, 2013
Eleven Warriors published an interview with Nuernberger a little over an hour later in which he discussed his brief recruitment and commitment to Ohio State.
"My kicking coach has been talking to Coach Coombs pretty heavily, and they've been talking to me the last few months about coming up here," Nuernberger said. "I was there yesterday and they asked me to stay another night and kicked again this morning one final time and was called up the football complex this afternoon. We had a meeting for about an hour and Coach Meyer extended the offer himself and I accepted it on the spot to kick there next year. I spent most of the time with Coach Coombs, but talked to Coach Meyer a bit last night and went into the office today for about a half-hour more."
Nuernberger said Ohio State was high on his wish list for a variety of reasons. Beyond being close to his Louisville-area home, his aim was to be a kicker and not a punter. He knew Ohio State would have an opening at kicker after the 2013 season.
"There's been some other schools like Louisville and Kentucky in-state that I've been talking to and thinking about," he said. "I also went to Alabama a few days ago to punt, but my focus is place-kicking. Knowing Drew Basil only had a year left, my focus has been Ohio State, Ohio State, Ohio State and it worked out to be a good fit. I'm super excited about this right now."
Naturally, the topic of Kerry Coombs was raised. Coombs is Ohio State's primary assistant coach for special teams. He has a well-known proclivity to be hilariously abusive to kickers. Nuernberger said he welcomed it and thrived under the pressure posed by Coombs.
"I feel when I am on I'm pretty good," he told Eleven Warriors. "Pressure doesn't get to me really, Coach Coombs was there yelling in my ear while I was kicking and it didn't get to me, so I feel that's my strong point, dealing with pressure. I've got a big leg I've been told, and I've hit 65-yard field goals before and can be pretty accurate from that distance."
Where He Excels
I will profess to not breaking down film on kickers often. Here goes.
I do not question Nuernberger's leg strength. Most of his kickoffs were easy touchbacks. This was probably by design of Oldham County's coach, who wanted kickoffs to be unreturnable in the endzone.
More important than leg strength, he makes good contact on his kicks. He gets a great foundation underneath him to drive through the football. Mechanically, Nuernberger has it.
On field goals, he's shown some consistency and some power, even. He has a 57-yard field goal (a school record) to his credit.
Must Work On
I like the lift Nuernberger gets on his kickoffs. Most of his kickoffs were easy touchbacks, which I suspect was the directive given to him by his coach. Ohio State will ask for something different. Ohio State coaches will want him to get just enough leg underneath a kickoff to pin the return team inside its own five-yard line, force a return, and rely on special teams speed to end a kickoff return behind the 20-yard line.
That approach worked well with Basil because he was experienced enough and good enough to get the sufficient lift on his kicks. This allowed the "piranhas" enough time to get underneath it. If Nuernberger is going to step into Ohio State's kickoff duties and do the same, he will need that lift on his kicks to be reliable. While this is a high-reward strategy for Ohio State, it is not without risks.
Nuernberger is already on campus, which allows for some preliminary evaluations. In just a few months on campus, he already seems a bit shaky on attempts beyond 40 yards. If he is going to start as a true freshman, we need him to move beyond freshman jitters at a higher level of football.
This one is tough. If Nuernberger can't beat Kyle Clinton as the starting kicker this fall, I'm not sure there's value in playing Nuernberger. He hasn't separated himself from Kyle Clinton to date though could as spring becomes summer. Urban Meyer noted yesterday that Clinton probably has the lead on Nuernberger.
My hunch is he eventually does and emerges as our starting kicker against Navy.
- 11W Community Interview.
- Q&A in The Courier-Journal (Louisville).
- He's interested in a pre-med track with a goal of becoming a neurosurgeon.
- 247Sports lists him as the seventh best kicker in the country. 247Sport's composite rankings also list him as the sixth best player overall regardless of position in the Bluegrass State.
- Father, Kai, is a former basketball player in Germany and for the German national team. He played for the German national team in the 1992 Summer Olympics. He played collegiately at Southern Illinois.
- The year 1993 was a good year for Kai Nuernberger. He guided the German national team to a FIBA EuroBasket crown and was named the MVP of Basketball-Bundesliga.
- Moved to the United States in third grade.
- I will be surprised if his nickname doesn't become "Das Boot" while he kicks for Ohio State. Even though "boot" means "boat" in German, I don't think that'll matter for an English-speaking audience.
- He is currently wearing no. 96.
- He is also a two-time first-team all-state kicker as selected by The Courier-Journal.