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Life in the Red

Maher kicks off NFL Combine for three Huskers

2013-02-19T23:30:00Z 2013-04-23T22:08:06Z Maher kicks off NFL Combine for three HuskersBy BRIAN CHRISTOPHERSON / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com

There's a combine breeze blowing in. It might not be strong enough to mess up Mel Kiper's hair, but it's there all the same.

The NFL Combine begins Wednesday in Indianapolis and runs through next Tuesday.

Three Husker seniors — running back Rex Burkhead, safety Daimion Stafford and kicker Brett Maher — will participate.

Maher will take the stage first, with kickers among the position groups leading off the testing.

It's a four-day process for each participant, meaning Maher won't actually undergo on-field testing until Saturday. Burkhead will do his major tests Sunday. Stafford is scheduled to test Tuesday.

How do participants spend their days at the combine?

The first day — the worst day, many former participants will tell you — comes with a trip to the hospital for physical exams.

Former Husker offensive lineman Lydon Murtha once told of being stuck in an MRI machine for five hours.

The second day: More medical tests, measurements and media interviews.

The third day: Psychological testing and the bench press. There are team interviews all three days.

The fourth day is the one that brings the headlines, with on-field testing.

Maher brings some impressive credentials, having been named the Big Ten kicker of the year the past two seasons. (He won the award outright in 2011 and shared the honor last fall with Northwestern's Jeff Budzien.)

Maher connected on 39 of 50 field goals the past two seasons. He averaged 43.2 yards per punt. As a senior, the Kearney native was 20-of-27 on field goals. His strong leg could be an asset at the combine. Maher made six kicks of 50 yards or longer in his career.

But the combine can be a challenging setting for even the best college kickers because the NFL uses what it calls the "K ball."

When former Husker kicker Alex Henery kicked at the combine two years ago, he made 12 of 15 field goals.

"They basically just take (the footballs) out of the box and scrub them down and that's about it," Henery once said.

Given that, the balls usually don't travel as far.

Henery adjusted and came back to make 11 of 11 field goals on pro day that year.

The Philadelphia Eagles were impressed enough to draft him in the fourth round.

Like Henery, Maher will have the chance to kick at NU's pro day this year, which will be March 7. But first, those all-important kicks in Indy.

Reach Brian Christopherson at bchristopherson@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. You can follow him on Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.

Copyright 2015 JournalStar.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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