As Nebraska moves into its second season in the Big Ten Conference, HuskerOnline.com will get you ready with ranking analysis pieces breaking down each position in the league. Today, we look at the kicker position in the Big Ten heading into 2012.
1. Brett Maher, Nebraska, 6-0, 185, Sr.
There may not be a better kicker/punter combo player in the country than Nebraska senior Brett Maher, as he continued Nebraska's rich tradition in the kicking game with a breakout 2011 season. Maher led the Big Ten with 19 field goals on 23 attempts, showing huge range by connecting on 3-of-6 attempts from 50 yards and out. The walk-on was the first Big Ten player named first-team all-conference as both a kicker and punter since 2001, and more than earned a scholarship that is all but guaranteed this August.
2. Drew Basil, Ohio State, 6-1, 210, Jr.
Ohio State's Drew Basil was one of the most accurate kickers in the Big Ten last season as a sophomore, hitting 16-of-19 attempts for an 84.2 percent success rate to lead the conference. Basil was near perfect from 45 yards and in, which should give the Buckeyes a reliable weapon once again as the offense adjusts to new head coach Urban Meyer's system.
3. Dan Conroy, Michigan State, 5-10, 194, Sr.
Michigan State senior Dan Conroy brings a combination of accuracy and leg strength to the Spartans' special teams, giving them one of the better kicking weapons in the conference. Conroy's range extends to 50 yards, and he made 17-of-23 field goal attempts in 2011, including two clutch field goals in MSU's overtime win over Georgia in the Outback Bowl.
4. Mitch Ewald, Indiana, 5-10, 172, Jr.
While Indiana has certainly had its share of issues over the past couple seasons, kicker Mitch Ewald has been one of the Hoosiers' few consistent bright spots. His range isn't as great as some of the others on this list, but get him inside 40 yards and Ewald is pretty much automatic. He was 13-of-16 on his field goal attempts last year as a sophomore.
5. Jeff Budzien, Northwestern, 5-11, 165, Jr.
Northwestern junior Jeff Budzien is another guy who lacks impressive kicking power but has a very accurate leg. Last season as a sophomore, Budzien made 6-of-10 field goal attempts and only missed once inside of 40 yards. He still needs some work, as he shanked a 26-yarder last season, but the potential is there for Budzien to be one of the better kickers in the conference.