NFC South: combineseries.com
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
When he came out of high school back in 1988, Michael Husted had good grades and test scores and an outstanding career as a high school football player on his resume.
All that wasn't good enough to get Husted the one thing he wanted: A scholarship offer to the University of Virginia. That experience, along with a nose for technology and business, is part of the reason Husted's working to help prevent kickers (punters and long snappers, too) from being shut out.
"When I came out, you pretty much had to be a Parade All-American to get a scholarship as a punter,'' said Husted, who walked on and eventually got a scholarship at Virginia.
Husted, who played much of his nine-year career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, hasn't played since 2002. But he still is a force in the kicking world. Husted operates combineseries.com. It's a site where kickers, punters and long snappers can showcase their work for coaches and scouts through workout videos and updated statistics.
The program primarily is for high-school athletes working toward scholarships. Participants can work out at a series of regional events that recently kicked off and will continue throughout the summer across the country. The top players in the regional events will be invited to a semi-final round and the national finals will be held in Florida early in 2010.
Husted and a team of nationwide associates (including former NFL and college players) provide coaching and evaluations to prospects and many college coaches rely on the site as part of their recruiting duties.
"We try to make it as objective as possible,'' said Husted, who now lives in San Diego. "It's tough with high school kickers because a coach might show up at one of their games and the kicker might not even get a chance to kick a field goal. Or, if you go to a one-day combine and have a bad day, you're out of luck. You have to be able to kick consistently and we feel like our series allows players to do that and to show growth over time.''
Husted actually got the idea for his site back near the end of his playing career. He was looking for a job and he and a friend decided to videotape a workout, post it on a website and make special-teams coaches around the league aware of it. When Carolina's John Kasay went down with an injury, Panthers assistant Scott O'Brien viewed the workout and invited Husted in for a tryout. The Panthers wound up going with Shayne Graham, but word of Husted's video workout spread and helped him land a job with Kansas City.
Husted's been running kicking combines for four summers now and the site isn't just for high school players and college coaches. The site also includes an area for professional kickers to post workouts for NFL teams.
Husted is branching out. He also has added an area (complete with regional combines) for high-school baseball prospects on his site. Husted said he also has plans to add similar models for lacrosse and hockey in the near future.
"I think we're all like puzzles,'' Husted said. "As a kicker, I think you're always looking for the right pieces to complete yourself. I think our NFL-style workouts and giving guys a chance to compete against the best competition and under pressure can really give a kicker the exposure he needs and lets coaches get a more complete look at what a kicker is all about.''