UMD kicker Nadeau is cool, calm and collecting records

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 2, 2011 - 6:56 AM

Kicker David Nadeau, the Bulldogs' hero last year, is ready to help his team to another D-II national title.

David Nadeau (87), a walk-on from White Bear Lake, gives the Bulldogs extra confidence when he lines up for a kick. He owns school marks for most field goals (43), extra points (256) and points by a kicker (385).

Photo: Brett Groehler, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The more David Nadeau thought about it, the more nervous he got. No wonder, given the situation facing the Minnesota Duluth kicker: a 32-yard field-goal attempt, on the final play of last fall's NCAA Division II championship game, with the score tied at 17.

All that pressure made Nadeau feel queasy -- but not until he watched the replay a couple of days later. In real time, he cleared his mind and nailed the kick, just as he's done dozens of times in his Bulldogs career. Sealing UMD's second national title in three seasons may stand as his most memorable achievement. But the senior from White Bear Lake also holds 15 school records, with another opportunity to add to his legacy Saturday when the Bulldogs play host to Wayne State (Mich.) in the Division II quarterfinals.

Nadeau didn't play football until his junior year of high school, when he was recruited from the soccer team. A walk-on at UMD, he won the kicking job -- and later a scholarship -- as a true freshman in 2008.

In October, he made a 55-yard field goal in a victory over the University of Mary, breaking a UMD record that had stood for 34 years. He also has converted 73 consecutive points after touchdown and owns school marks for most field goals (43), extra points (256) and points by a kicker (385). Though he is nearing the end of his Bulldogs career, Nadeau will keep his emotions in check until it's finished -- just as he's done with every one of his kicks.

"I try to stay relaxed and not get too excited during games,'' Nadeau said. "If I get excited, my mechanics will be off, and everything will be out of whack.

"The whole emotion of [the championship game], I didn't grasp it at first. At the time, I didn't feel any of it, and it didn't hit me until I came home. I went through it like any other kick. It all comes down to preparation.''

The Bulldogs do a fine job of that in every practice. They always end with a drill called "Field Goal for the Game,'' which replicates the circumstances Nadeau faced in the championship game against Delta State. Day after day, he had made those kicks in wind and rain and bitter cold, with his teammates screaming at him just to make things a little tougher.

That routine has helped Nadeau develop his consistency. His desire to learn -- and a work ethic that coach Bob Nielson said is rare for a kicker -- helped him refine his technique.

Nadeau's years as a soccer defenseman had built a strong leg, and he became White Bear Lake's starting kicker in his first season of football. Though the motion did not come naturally to him, he was intrigued by the mechanics of kicking and began attending camps. The experience he gained in his freshman season with the Bulldogs, which ended with a national championship, left Nadeau confident that he could make a mark at UMD.

Nielson felt the same way. "David matured very rapidly as a kicker, and he worked hard to improve himself,'' he said. "You need your kicker to be confident, but you also need them to have a flat-line emotional level, because of the pressure they're under. That's David. He gives us confidence that inside a certain area of the field we're going to get at least three points.''

At UMD, Nadeau also has improved his leg strength, leading Nielson to allow him to attempt more long-distance kicks. This season, seven of his 12 field goals have been 40 yards or longer, including the 55-yarder that set the school record. Nadeau also connected from 47 yards in the victory over Mary and made a 46-yarder in last week's upset of No. 1 Colorado State-Pueblo.

Concentration and repetition have been integral to Nadeau's success, and he believes those qualities are just as critical to the Bulldogs' title defense. If they can perform up to their capabilities and eliminate mistakes, he said, they have a chance to play on -- and perhaps add another highlight to his career.

"We have a chip on our shoulder, because everyone has been saying we're not the same team we had been the last couple of years,'' Nadeau said. "We feel like they've awakened the sleeping giant. We're playing our best football right now, and we're excited to see how far we can take this.''

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Tampa 6 FINAL
Philadelphia 2
LA Clippers 96 FINAL
Chicago 86
Cleveland 103 FINAL
Houston 105
Golden State 106 FINAL
Boston 101
Philadelphia 74 FINAL
Indiana 94
Portland 110 FINAL
Sacramento 99
Charlotte 98 FINAL
Orlando 83
Oklahoma City 108 FINAL
LA Lakers 101
New Orleans 99 FINAL
Denver 92
Los Angeles 2 FINAL
Winnipeg 5
Tampa Bay 3 FINAL
Florida 4
Columbus 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Toronto 0 FINAL
Washington 4
Anaheim 3 FINAL
Dallas 1
St. Louis 5 FINAL(SO)
Vancouver 6
Connecticut 81
Quinnipiac 65 FINAL
Manhattan 69
Fairfield 56 FINAL
Niagara 57
Marist 49 FINAL
Rider 59
Iona 60 FINAL
Saint Peters 68
Oregon State 56 FINAL
California 73
South Florida 55 FINAL
Houston 72
Marquette 66 FINAL
Providence 77
Michigan State 61 FINAL
Wisconsin 68
Siena 57 FINAL
Monmouth 63
Pittsburgh 66 FINAL
Wake Forest 69
Oregon 73 FINAL
Stanford 70
Purdue 61 FINAL
Ohio State 65
Arizona State 81 FINAL
Colorado 87
Washington St 67 FINAL
Georgetown 66 FINAL
Providence 81
Binghamton 50 FINAL
Elon 65 FINAL
Hofstra 58
Virginia Tech 47 FINAL
Boston College 49
(8) Louisville 59 FINAL
Virginia 75
Texas 69 FINAL
West Virginia 76
Creighton 53 FINAL
Villanova 61
Seton Hall 85 FINAL
Butler 76
UNC-Wilmington 76 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 65
(5) Maryland 69 FINAL
(25) Northwestern 48
Saint Josephs 67 FINAL
La Salle 55
Louisiana Tech 53 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 60
Rhode Island 70 FINAL
Massachusetts 78
Richmond 55 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 49
Davidson 46 FINAL
Fordham 54
St Bonaventure 43 FINAL
Duquesne 51
George Mason 45 FINAL
(22) George Washington 80
Indiana 60 FINAL
(20) Rutgers 71
(12) Texas A&M 63 FINAL
LSU 80
Ole Miss 47 FINAL
(11) Miss State 55
Clemson 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 61
Maine 47 FINAL
New Hampshire 61
Vermont 48 FINAL
Albany 76
Quinnipiac 87 FINAL
Monmouth 48
Saint Peters 47 FINAL
Siena 64
(4) Notre Dame 67 FINAL
NC State 60
Wisconsin 62 FINAL
Penn State 56
Stony Brook 49 FINAL
Hartford 56
Northeastern 47 FINAL
William & Mary 62
St Johns 61 FINAL
Xavier 74
James Madison 74 FINAL
Delaware 71
Towson 45 FINAL
Drexel 50
Illinois State 50 FINAL
Bradley 60
Southern Ill 74 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 70
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Wichita State 66
Minnesota 76 FINAL
(17) Iowa 92
(15) North Carolina 80 FINAL
(16) Duke 81
Alabama 73 FINAL
Auburn 80
(9) Florida State 69 FINAL
Miami-Florida 55
Arkansas 41 FINAL
Missouri 57
Georgia 52 FINAL
Florida 45
Dayton 95 FINAL
Saint Louis 68
Drake 57 FINAL
Missouri State 86
Colorado 46 FINAL
(10) Arizona State 59
(19) Stanford 55 FINAL
Oregon 62
Marquette 82 FINAL
DePaul 99
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 60
Vanderbilt 49 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 79
(2) South Carolina 56 FINAL
(13) Kentucky 67
Utah 41 FINAL
Arizona 64
Ohio State 78 FINAL
Nebraska 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Who is the best center on a Twin Cities sports team?

Weekly Question