Sept. 16, 2003
There was no way Nate Kaeding could have known that he would score 16 points and break a 16-year-old school record last Saturday. But he had to have known that eventually he would.
The 21-year-old kicker has been dubbed “Mr Automatic” by many for his mind boggling ability to make kicking a small, oblong ball through two tall, suspended poles look easy. And unlike many nicknames, this one is true.
Kaeding has 51-of-63 career field goal attempts, including 21-of-26 from outside 40 yards and 3-of-3 from outside 50 yards, not to mention 138-of-140 extra point attempts. He trails former Hawkeye Rob Houghtlin by three field goals to reach the record books for most field goals ever, and Tom Nichol by four PATs to become Iowa’s leading kicker ever.
The Coralville, Iowa-native surpassed Houghtlin by one point on Saturday to become Iowa’s career leading scorer with 291 points with just minutes remaining in the Hawkeyes’ commanding 40-21 win over Iowa State. His four field goals in the match-up also equalized his own record first set in 2000.
“It was fun to get those records. It’s always good stuff to kind of re-write the books,” said Kaeding after the game.
In just over three years at Iowa, Kaeding has done a lot to re-write the books.
Last year, he scored 120 points over 13 games to take the season scoring records; he also had a season high 58 extra point attempts. And through the 2001-2002 seasons, Kaeding had 22 consecutive field goals and 60 consecutive points after touchdown.
Kaeding also became the first Hawkeye to ever win the Lou Groza Award in 2002, which is given to the nation’s top placekicker. After receiving numerous accolades last season, Kaeding entered his senior season on four pre-season all-America Teams (Sports Illustrated, Playboy, Athlon and The Sporting News).
By the time this season is over, Kaeding could be in solid control of all of Iowa’s kicking records.
This week, Kaeding was named Big Ten Player of the Week for the fourth time in his career because of his record-breaking performance against the Cyclones. He is Iowa’s third player to receive conference recognition this year.
So is Kaeding really the best kicker that Iowa’s ever had? Is he the best in the nation?
Statistically, it’s shaping up that way. But he wouldn’t take it that far.
“I don’t know if that’s a fair statement because I kind of gauge myself off of how well I help my team win football games. I know back in the 1980s Rob Houghtlin helped his team win a lot of football games,” said Kaeding.
by Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com