INDIANAPOLIS – What goes through head of Caleb Sturgis prior to kicking the football is anyone’s guess.
There is no touching the grass, or pointing to the sky prior to his right leg striking the pigskin. There is nothing to give observers a hint of his process.
“I try not to be superstitious about anything. What if you forget to do whatever you did that time, will it affect you?” Sturgis said at this year’s NFL Combine.
Why mess with success?
No one is arguing with Sturgis. His .795 field goal percentage and Florida school-record 70 career field goals speak for itself. His number of made kicks ranks sixth in SEC history, while his eight boots from 50 yards and beyond are the most in Florida history.
Sturgis, who also handled kickoff duties and finished his career with 67 touchbacks, was especially effective in his final two seasons as the Gators’ place-kicker.
He connected on 46-of-54 (85 percent) field goals and 65-of-66 extra points in 2011 and 2012.
Routinely playing in some of college football’s most electric atmospheres, Sturgis might be ready for the pressure of kicking in the NFL more than any other kicker in the 2013 draft class.
“I think the expectations are about as high in the SEC (as anywhere),” Sturgis said. “Every stadium you play in is probably between 70,000 and 100,000 people. People take football pretty seriously in the South.”
One player that made the seamless transition from the SEC to kicking on Sunday’s was Minnesota Vikings kicker Blair Walsh.
The former Georgia kicker, Walsh was tremendous as a rookie in 2012, connecting on a league-leading 35-of-38 field goals, including a perfect 10-of-10 from 50 yards.
“Blair was amazing this year,” Sturgis said. “It does a lot (for my confidence), because in the past I think it’s taken guys a few years to really get in. And I think him, (Rams rookies Greg Zuerlein) and (Ravens rookie kicker Justin Tucker), all came in and did a very good job (last) year, so it shows that the young guys are ready.”
Later this month, Sturgis will try and follow the path that Walsh carved out with his right foot this past year.
The ability to also boom kickoffs is something that is enticing to scouts, and the chance to have a shot to kick anywhere in the NFL is enough for Sturgis.
“The margin of error is small there, and it’s also small because there's only 32 teams that need your position in the NFL,” Sturgis said.
“There's 32 guys already that are on teams, and there's probably 20 guys that are veterans that are trying to get back in. You're definitely trying to prove yourself any time you step out in front of somebody.”
LOOKING AT THE 2013 NFL DRAFT'S KICKERS/PUNTERS
THE LAST FIVE
The last five kickers/punters drafted by the Colts:
2005: Dave Rayner, K, sixth round, Michigan State
2004: David Kimball, K, seventh round, Penn State
1999: Hunter Smith, P, seventh round, Notre Dame
1998: Tim Vesling, K, twelfth round, Syracuse
THIS YEAR'S DRAFT
An alphabetical list of kickers/punters expected to be selected in the 2012 NFL Draft (*-denotes underclassman):
Brett Baer, Louisiana-Lafayette
Zach Brown, Portland State
Dustin Hopkins, Florida State
Brett Maher, Nebraska
Caleb Sturgis, Florida
Ryan Allen, Louisiana Tech
Josh Hubner, Arizona State
Jeff Locke, UCLA
Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
Brad Wing*, LSU
Note: The content in this story and in the series of draft-eligible players that appears on Colts.com in no way reflects the position of the Indianapolis Colts.