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Tryout kicker Waldoch, a former server at Leadbelly, shines in collegiate debut for Huskers

Tryout kicker Waldoch, a former server at Leadbelly, shines in collegiate debut for Huskers


COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Matt Waldoch was working a shift at Leadbelly in the Haymarket when his phone buzzed back in August.

It was the president of Nebraska's club soccer team informing him that the Husker football team had reached out about the opportunity to try out due to injuries at place-kicker.

"He was just like, 'I know that you didn't kick in high school, but you kind of did,'" Waldoch recalled Saturday evening.

He was chatting with reporters because he's ascended from only 'kind of' kicking in high school to turning in a sparkling collegiate debut for Nebraska.  

The Illinois native made a trio of 29-yard field goals and converted on all six of his extra points in his collegiate debut against Maryland.

Waldoch said he was “getting ready for junior year and organizing club soccer tryouts“ before the tryout. 

But he earned a spot, made progress and then, with Barret Pickering unable to make a November trip to Maryland due to injury — the radio broadcast said the sophomore is in concussion protocol — Waldoch got his chance and shined.

“It helps the confidence for sure, but I’ve been confident before,” Waldoch said. “I’ve been ready for a while.”

Not bad for a guy who told Frost back when he joined the team that he wouldn’t be nervous in a Big Ten stadium because he kicked in front of 50 people in high school.

“They were stressing at the tryout that anything is possible, just put in the work and work hard,” Waldoch said. “I figured, ‘Just wait for an opportunity.’”

Waldoch said he's made several changes to his mechanics since he joined the team. 

"I'd say there's been a lot of progress for sure," he said. "The biggest thing is probably just consistency. Also, the elevation of the ball. That's been something that I've really had to get used to and work on. 

"From the beginning, I think I was hitting it too much like a cross-field pass in soccer. I had to get used to kicking it more straight. But one day it felt like it just kind of clicked and I've just been trying to make progress since." 

Waldoch's made the most of the opportunity, but it might not be over just yet. 

"It's been weird. It feels like it's been half a year and at the same time it's flown by," he said. 

Nebraska also added a senior walk-on, Harrison Martin out of Lincoln Lutheran, to its roster and brought him along on the trip as a kicker, too.

Martin made an 18-yard field goal in his first collegiate action in the fourth quarter, extending NU’s lead to 47-0.

“I’m really happy for both those kids,” Frost said. “Those are Nebraska kids that weren’t even thinking about playing football in August.”



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Husker football reporter

Parker joined the Journal Star as the University of Nebraska football beat writer in August 2017. He previously covered Montana State athletics for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2012.

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