Dawgs kick adversity, snap at NFL chance

By Brent Meske, @brentmeskeDE

Two former Salukis may have had humble beginnings in college, now they are taking the next step toward making the National Football League.

Former Saluki long snapper Thor Hadfield and kicker Thomas Kinney will attend the College Senior Specialist’s Combine in Arizona beginning Friday.

The combine is for kickers, punters and long snappers only. Hadfield said he asked to participate in the combine and was accepted. Kinney was invited.

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At the combine, specialists will not participate in the typical NFL Scouting Combine workouts, but instead will focus on snapping and kicking.

Hadfield said the only workout he would do at the combine is the 225-pound bench press. He said the rest of the workouts players do at the NFL combine will be done at pro days.

Hadfield came to SIU in 2010 as a walk-on and redshirted the first season. SIU coach Dale Lennon said Hadfield was not guaranteed a spot on the team, nor playing time. During the redshirt year, Lennon told Hadfield to learn from then-senior long snapper Jason Stegman.

“[Thor] did whatever he could to be around the team,” Lennon said. “He found a way to be a part of the team and get on the field, now he’s looking at making the NFL. It’s quite the story.”

Hadfield said he wants to leave the combine as the best snapper there. He said his focus for the combine will be to impress the scouts in attendance by capitalizing on his snaps.

Lennon said Hadfield will have no problem with that.

“We didn’t know what we had when he started out,” he said. “When it came time for him to perform, he never had a bad snap in his career.”

Hadfield said he is excited to see how he compares to other long snappers in the country.

Hadfield and Kinney used the iced-over Saluki Stadium field to practice snapping and kicking last week. Hadfield said while the conditions were not ideal, he was able to practice his short snapping and dropping into protection after long snapping.

Because of the field conditions, Kinney was unable to practice kicking and went to Arizona early to practice.

Kinney, like Hadfield, faced adversity during his time at SIU. Kinney transferred to SIU from Winona State University in 2012 and redshirted his junior year.

In two years at SIU, Kinney had a 65.1 field goal percentage but was one of three players in the Missouri Valley Football Conference who was perfect for extra points in 2014, 41-of-41. He was also a preseason first-team All-MVFC and All-American.

Lennon said Kinney showed necessary patience during his redshirt year and did everything well to have a good career at SIU. 

“Being a kicker in the NFL is challenging because those guys never retire and they can have 15-year careers,” Lennon said. “Someone has to be interested in you, and then you turn that into getting a tryout.”

Hadfield and Kinney will participate in the combine beginning Friday at Campo Verde High School in Gilbert, Ariz.

Brent Meske can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 269. 

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