Published Monday, January 21, 2013 AT 9:55 PM / Updated at 10:05 PM
Recruiting: Western Illinois kicker to walk on at NU
Jon Nyatawa Omaha World-Herald

A few weeks ago, Pat Smith started sending out his highlight tape to programs whose top kicker graduated after the 2012 season. Nebraska called him back.

And after visiting Lincoln this past weekend, the former Western Illinois kicker confirmed to The World-Herald that he has decided to walk on at NU for the 2013 season, as first reported by Husker Online. He announced the news on Twitter Monday afternoon.

Smith, who graduates from WIU in May, has one year of eligibility left. He’ll pursue an MBA, focusing on finance, he said.

On the field, Smith said he’s ready to “compete for whatever’s available.” Nebraska has one scholarship kicker on its roster — sophomore Mauro Bondi (who didn’t play in 2012).

What kind of impact could Smith make? Tough to tell. But here are some stats…

>> Smith said his specialty is field goal kicking. He made all 10 of his field goal attempts for Western Illinois in 2012.

>> He was one of 10 finalists for the Fred Mitchell Award (which goes to college football’s top non-Division I kicker).

>> Smith averaged 38 yards on a school-record 84 punts in 2012. He said he taught himself to punt during the offseason. Midway through the year, Western Illinois’ top long-snapper was injured, disrupting the timing — by years end, Smith said he was lining up a couple yards closer to prevent blocks.

>> He also recorded nine touchbacks on 33 kickoffs.

About Jon Nyatawa

Jon Nyatawa has covered local sports, primarily Nebraska football, for The Omaha World-Herald since 2008. He and his laptop, cell phone, tape recorder, pen and notebook all live in Lincoln. Follow him on Twitter: @JonNyatawa. Email him here: jon.nyatawa@owh.com. He welcomes feedback.