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FOOTBALL

FCS kicker, punter Timmy Bleekrode commits to Huskers

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LINCOLN — Nebraska added a kicker for the 2022 season. And perhaps a punter, too.

Timmy Bleekrode, who made 15 of 18 field goals last season at Furman, announced on Twitter on Sunday night that he is transferring to NU after an official visit over the weekend. He will have three years left of eligibility and shores up a kicking quandary that had few solutions in 2021, when the Huskers missed eight field goals and four extra points.

A native of Atlanta, Bleekrode made every field goal shorter than 40 yards last season for the Paladins and had three misses in the 40- to 49-yard range, making a 51-yarder for his season long. Bleekrode was arguably a better punter, averaging a gross of 41.25 yards, downing 13 inside the 20-yard line and hitting 11 punts of 50 yards or more. He had a net of 36.06 yards per punt.

Nebraska struggled with placekicking and punting all season, leading coach Scott Frost at one point to say that the team didn't so much have a problem with special teams as its specialists.

Connor Culp, the All-Big Ten kicker in 2020, was benched late in the season for Chase Contreraz, who subsequently missed a key field goal against Ohio State. NU also rotated between punters Daniel Cerni and William Przystup, benching each at some point during the season.

Nebraska finished with a net punting average of 35.77 yards, and two punts — one of which was blocked — were returned for touchdowns this season. Both cost NU wins over ranked Big Ten foes.

The Huskers were motivated enough to resolve the problem that it prioritized and offered a scholarship to Bleekrode from the FCS. The last time NU did that, in 2013, it paid off. Pat Smith came from Western Illinois to Nebraska and made 12 of 13 field goals, including the overtime winner at Penn State.


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