News broke today about the Green Bay Packers inviting kicker Michael Barnard in for a tryout, but we here at lombardiave.com, in particular staff writer T.J.Marquardt, broke the story about the possibility of a Barnard tryout back in December at the height of Mason Crosby major slump.
Here’s what Marquardt wrote in December:
The Packers might find the answer in a kid who many teams have as their top-rated Free Agent kicker. His name is Michael Barnard. Barnard played his college ball at a private university, Fairleigh-Dickinson. He has been on the short list for numerous NFL teams over the past few years. He isn’t some fly-by-night, wannabe either; in fact, he might have made the Eagles squad this year if Alex Henery hadn’t had such an amazing rookie season in 2011.
According to Marquardt, the Packers had considered or were at least approached by Barnard and/or his representative requesting a tryout. It was unclear at that time whether the Packers were considering the tryout, but Marquardt felt the tryout session was going to happen. As far as we know, it didn’t at that time, but now it seems the Packers have reconsidered and are scheduled to bring the New Jersey-based kicker in for a look-see this coming Monday.
In a story about the tryout published at jsonline and written by one of my favorite Packers reporters, Bob McGinn, he said that the Packers have never brought in competition against Crosby, but now may be the time to do so, considering the Packers veteran kicker’s poor performance last year.
Barnard, 6 feet 1½ inches and 216 pounds, is the unlikeliest of candidates.
From 2006-’08, Barnard kicked at Division III Fairleigh Dickinson, where he made a paltry 59.3% (16 of 27) and missed five of 54 extra points for teams that finished 7-23. His long was 47 yards, and he had three blocked.
But that was five years ago and McGinn documents how he has been working to improve his technique and accuracy – and that he’s been working with people who know a little something about kicking …
Barnard spent his winters in Florida, where he kept kicking almost nonstop. He spent time working with former NFL kickers Mike Hollis and Michael Husted, and also learned from David Akers, who lived near him outside Philadelphia.
McGinn interviewed Hollis, who said that he feels Barnard at least has a shot: “Hopefully, Michael will get an opportunity, whether it’s Green Bay or wherever, to get into camp and show what he can do. He’s definitely got the size and ability to be an NFL kicker. He’s probably one of the most passionate guys we’ve ever coached,” Hollis said. “Very dedicated. He wants this really bad.”
That’s how Marquardt saw the kicker back in December.
Here is how Marquardt described him:
Barnard’s strong leg and confidence have attracted attention around the NFL … He works hard and has dedicated himself to making the grade in the NFL, working out 6 days a week kicking and conditioning while he waits for his shot in the NFL.
McGinn pulled up an interview conducted with Barnard last summer by FullScaleSports:
“I feel I am most comparable to kickers like Mason Crosby and Sebastian Janikowski. They possess the ability to be deadly accurate and kick field goals over 60 yards regularly and kick off in excess of 75 yards, just as I do.
I do not plan on being an average NFL kicker. I want to be one of the best to ever do it … there isn’t one kicker in the league I feel I could not go up against and come out feeling confident.”
If lombardiave.com’s Marquardt was right in December when exclaiming in his post that “This kid is GOOD,” then it will most likely be borne out on whether the Packers feel the same way after his workout on Monday. If they decide that he’s the guy who could compete against Crosby in camp next summer, we’re sure they will let the world know.
If he is the guy … or even if he isn’t … we can also say that you heard it first right here.