It was quite the day on the kicking front for the Nebraska football program. And not in a good way. At all.
Thursday, it was reported that Barrett Pickering was no longer a part of the Nebraska football team. The placekicker subsequently confirmed that he was stepping away from the sport because of health concerns. Pickering will, however, remain on scholarship as a student at the school. The Alabama native won’t count against the 85-man scholarship limit for Nebraska football.
Not long after the news of Pickering’s decision broke, it was also confirmed that kicker Matt Waldoch will not be returning to the program as well. The reason? Club soccer.
The twin departures leave Nebraska football very thin at the position. At least, experience-wise it does.
As a true freshman in 2018, Pickering served as the primary placekicker for Nebraska football. That season, he hit on 14 of his 18 field-goal attempts (77.8 percent) and missed just one of his 41 point-after attempts. Pickering did not miss over the final six games, going 25-of-25 on extra points and 9-of-9 on field goals.
During that stretch, he accounted for all nine points (three field goals) in a 9-6 win over Michigan State. That was the first time Nebraska football won without scoring a touchdown since 1937.
Despite that momentum, Pickering’s 2019 season was essentially a wasted year. The Alabama native missed the first seven games last season because of an unspecified injury. When he returned, he went 3-of-5 on field goals and was successful on all 10 extra points.
By the end of the year, though, Waldoch, an in-season tryout player off the club soccer team, had become the Cornhuskers’ primary kicker.
With Pickering exiting the program, Waldoch would’ve entered the spring as the favorite to win the job. Waldoch didn’t miss a kick this past campaign, connecting on four field-goal and nine point-after tries.
Nebraska football will enter spring practice with three non-scholarship options at the position: redshirt freshman Gabe Heins, junior-college transfer Chase Contreraz and true freshman Tyler Crawford. Contreraz will head into the spring as the favorite to win the job.