If you're looking for an ups-and-downs ripe twist-and-turn laden recruiting narrative for a player who could play a pivotal role in his college selection's future, Sean Nuernberger isn't it. Nuernberger, who Ohio State lists as 6'1, 235 (!), wouldn't necessarily even strike you as "football player" to the eye test if you ran into him on the Oval, but rest assured, if there's a player who could have an impact from day one from Urban Meyer and Mark Pantoni's 2014 recruiting class, Nuernberger might well prove to be it.
We continue our 2014 edition of "Bucks to the Future" by taking a closer look at kicker Sean Nuernberger, whose meteoric rise from Ohio State kicker camp attendee to future Buckeye culminated in his enrolling early with six others for the '14 class.
Weight: 235 pounds
247Composite: 6th best kicker in the country, 7th best player from the state of Kentucky, and 1262nd best overall player in the class of 2014.
High School: Oldham County, Buckner, KY
As alluded to, there's not a lot of meat-and-potatoes for the recruiting arc of Sean Nuernberger. The Oldham County kicker got an invite to an OSU kicking camp. He showed up. He turned some heads. He got invited to kick again at the Buckeyes' indoor facility in the afternoon. He put on a show for Urban Meyer. Kerry Coombs and Meyer chatted him up the next day privately, and they offered him a chance to potentially be the next kicker for the Ohio State football team. Sean answered:
It's done! Officially committed to play football for THE Ohio State University! #BUCKEYENATION— Sean Nuernberger (@Sean4Heisman1) June 11, 2013
While that incredible moment was the culmination of years of hard work for Nuernberger, from an outsider's vantage, it's incredibly refreshing in an era of Top 20 team lists, long, drawn-out processes, and on-stage commitments with babies in team-colored onesies from many recruits. That Nuernberger in a very literal sense earned the offer to boot only makes his story all the more appealing.
Kicking is very much a mental exercise, and Nuernberger gets that. His makeup ultimately is what will determine his success as a Buckeye, and based on what he told us back in August the summer before his senior year, there's little reason to think he won't come as advertised:
Kicking is such a mental game. If you are not mentally tough, it's an extremely hard job to do. [As for me], I don't consider myself a head case whatsoever. No matter what the situation is, I try to remain calm and focus on the job at hand.
Did we mention he wants to major in neurosurgery?
If the potential of an Aaron Craft or Craig Krenzel-type/Mike Nugent hybrid weren't enough, the high praise continues on the field. His high school coach, Matt Brown, on Nuernberger's boot:
“He has a monster leg. … We feel like we can kick the ball from wherever we want to on the field. ... It booms off his foot.”
The results back it up, too. Nuernberger finished his high school career as a two-time Kentucky first-team all-state-kicker, connecting on 13-of-20 field goal tries, 21-of-23 PATs, and averaging 42.3 yards per punt as a senior. The numbers might be a tad bit worrisome at face value, but keep in mind Oldham County took added risks given Nuernberger's skill set not traditionally afforded ordinary high school kickers. His lone two ordinary misses were from 54 and 56 yards, and five of the other field goals were blocked (#HighSchoolSpecialTeamsLinemen). He was 7-of-12, including a 46-yarder the year prior, booming 38-of-44 kickoffs for touchbacks and averaging 43.2 yards per punt as a junior.
In the midst of said senior season, Nuernberger joined a group of Buckeyes that were the first ever class to sign mid-year aid agreements, allowing relaxed communication between he and Ohio State and protecting his scholarship with the team in case of injury or otherwise. After semester's end, Sean graduated early and enrolled at Ohio State, where he'll now be competing this spring (and subsequent summer) for a real shot at replacing Drew Basil as Ohio State's next kicker.
Nuernberger has a solid foundation and a makeup that suggests a high ceiling as Ohio State's kicker. While Sebastian Janikowski he's not, Nuernberger has "kicker hips" and gets a good strike on the ball each and every time he tees off on it.
The potential is definitely up there for Nuernberger, and just watching him kick and seeing the kind of lift he gets on balls, it's unsurprising Kerry Coombs decided he had what it takes to be an effective high FBS specialist. With additional coaching and fine-tuning of an already impressive for his age set of mechanics, Nuernberger could do what he's set out to and follow in the footsteps of the Nugents, Hustons, and Basils of the world.
Nuernberger has the physical attributes to contribute right away. Be it as a kickoff specialist (highlight videos of Nuernberger routinely show him blasting set kicks for touchbacks) or as the team's actual kicker, while a Cam Johnston impact would be unlikely, Sean remains a viable contender to be the team's starting kicker and have a solid first of four seasons in scarlet and gray.
Obligatory GIF, Highlights
You don't say...
Sean's dad, Kai, is a former Olympian, having played basketball for Germany in the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics after a college career at Southern Illinois. Nuernberger contributed 5 points and 5 steals against the Dream Team in a 111-68 loss to the US. Now his son, who was born in Germany while his dad played professionally in Europe, will be part of the Dream '14.