Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Nick the Kick(er) | by Pat

Notre Dame's special teams needs were all wrapped up in one short week. Following on the heels of punter Ben Turk, Texas kicker Nicholas Tausch committed to ND as soon as Charlie offered him a scholarship and in doing so became the 9th member of the Class of 2009. There was a bit of a waiting period as ND first offered kicker Dustin Hopkins and gave him a week to make his choice before also extending an offer to Tausch. Once the call went in to Tausch though, he gave an immediate answer in the affirmative.

"It was somewhat stressful, I thought," Tausch said. "I just kind of thought that just sitting there waiting, I just kind of hoped that I would have an opportunity to go to Notre Dame and fortunately it (happened) and I'm going there now and I'm thrilled."
Like Turk, Tausch hasn't visited Notre Dame yet, but does plan to trek up to South Bend in the coming weeks.

Notre Dame was the first school to offer Tausch, though he did visit LSU in recent weeks and was hearing from Oklahoma, Oregon, and a few other schools as well. There are no rankings on Rivals, Scout, and ESPN yet, but like with Turk, there is a ranking available on the Chris Sailer kicking website. There, Tausch as listed the #2 kicker in the country. There is also video of Tausch kicking at a summer camp and this review of Tausch.
Nicholas is an outstanding kicker. He has separated himself from the pack. Kicks effortlessly off the ground and gets huge hang time on his kickoffs. A fine young man with great work ethic. Has everything it takes to kick at the D1A level. Also showing that he has the ability to punt. Definite scholarship pick. Offer now!!!!!
Like with many kickers, it seems that Tausch got the attention of colleges via summer camps like the Sailer one. In high school he was only 5 for 9 on field goals and 15 of 16 on extra points while splitting time on his Jesuit College Prep team. That isn't much to go on, but ND did visit his high school twice this spring to watch him kick, so they did have more to go on than just a handful of in-season kicks. He also notched 12 touchbacks, which is 12 more than ND registered last season. Tausch has some pretty strong football bloodlines as well, which never hurts. His father played offensive line in the NFL for a number of years and his brother is also an offensive lineman and fielding college offers of his own.

Getting back to the above review of Tausch, his kick hang time is mentioned. Also included on the Sailer site is this factoid about Tausch.
Hit a 4.61 hang time kickoff at a recent camp (April 2008)
Like many fans, I imagine that number is pretty useless without context. Digging up Ryan Burkhart's high school camp stats from when he was named the #1 kicker at the national Ray Guy series of camps, his max hang time was 3.77. Of course, we don't know what kind of tee or wind conditions accompanied Tausch's kick, but if he can hit anywhere near that kind of hang time, that should be plenty of time for the coverage unit to get down field before the returner can build up a full head of steam.

There will be three kickers on scholarship when Tausch reports to Notre Dame in 2009, which isn't exactly ideal. However, he will only overlap with Ryan Burkhart for one year, unless Burkhart returns for a fifth year, and will have a year's separation with Brandon Walker. If Tausch sits out his first year, he will have three years of eligibility after Walker graduates. Hopefully, one of the three will wind up becoming a dependable option and every field goal try won't continue to be as big a gamble as just going for the first down.