A Norwegian whose YouTube clip of spectacular trick shots has been watched more than 500,000 times could be on the verge of a National Football League (NFL) contract as a kicker.
The video caught the attention of professional teams in the US, and Norwegian state broadcaster NRK has reported that its star, Havard Rugland, had a tryout for the NFL’s New York Jets this week.
“It went well,” Rugland told NRK. “They tested me on field goals and kickoffs. Obviously you feel a little more pressure here, but I stayed pretty calm.”
The video shows the 27-year-old performing some outrageous tricks and kicks, from nailing 60-yard field goals to soccer-style scissor kicks and volleys.
Made by Rugland, his brother and some friends, the video has spread rapidly on the Internet, clocking up more than half a million hits and garnering interest from three US colleges and the Jets.
Rugland has no prior football experience, but kicking coach Michael Husted says that if he continues to develop, he could reach the NFL.
“Havard has incredible talent as a kicker,” Husted, who played nine seasons as an NFL kicker, told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper. “He has a cannon for a leg. As he continues to refine his technique, he could be one of the strongest kickers in the NFL.”
Husted said he became aware of Rugland via the YouTube video, and that he was asked to bring the kicker to San Diego, California, to prepare him for a trial with an NFL team.
“A GM [general manager] from an NFL team contacted me about Havard. He wanted Havard to come to train with me in San Diego before they were going to fly him in for a workout,” he said.
“He reminds me a lot of [Sebastian] Janikowski in terms of stature and strength,” Husted said, drawing a parallel between Rugland and the Oakland Raiders’ Polish placekicker.
Havard has quickly gone from practicing on his own in his hometown of Aalgaard in southern Norway to being prepared for tryouts with teams in the game’s biggest league.
“On this trip things have evolved rapidly, from just training alone to training to try out for a team. From where I am now, playing in the NFL is a long way to go, but my goal is to get a contract before the preparations begin for next season,” Rugland said.
Even if he does get a pro contract, Rugland will have a long way to go before he matches the achievements of fellow Norwegian Jan Stenerud.
Stenerud, one of only three kickers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, played 19 seasons in the NFL and is one of the highest scorers in the game’s history.