Females have kicked or tried out for a roster spot in the college ranks for years. Just last season, former LSU women’s soccer goalkeeper Mo Isom tried out as a Tigers placekicker. In 2003, Katie Hnida became the first woman to kick for an NCAA Division I-A football team, scoring in one game for the University of New Mexico.
Hnida, who later kicked for the Fort Wayne Firehawks of the Continental Indoor Football League, was surprised a player with no true kicking background would be scouted at a combine.
“I thought it would be an athlete who has come through the ranks of playing football for a long time,” she said. “It is so different kicking in a live situation, too, dealing with the timing of the snap, having guys rushing at you. That’s where you separate the good from the great.”
“I think it’s courageous on her part in trying this, and certainly groundbreaking if she could prove her skills are good enough to play in the NFL,” he said. “What a team’s policy would be as far entertaining the thought in signing a female, that’s still debatable. No one knows that answer. … I give her points for giving it a shot. She’s obviously following her dream.”
Forget game-on-the-line playoff pressure, Silberman will instead kick in front of low-level scouts. They, like the players themselves, are trying to move up the ranks.
“In terms of regional combines, we usually send one younger pro and college scout,” Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said. “And then, (at the) super-regional, we send a bunch of higher level scouts.”
Agent Rob Roche represents four kickers, including Baltimore’s Justin Tucker. He said from an agent’s perspective, finding the right situation for a young kicker is most important, because there’s only 32 jobs available. Teams, after all, tend to stick with a kicker when they feel they can trust him, rather than bringing in someone younger with limited NFL experience. Roche said kickers who lack experience at the major-college level face daunting odds.
“To come out and start kicking and you’ve never kicked in college,” he said, “you don’t know how a player is going to react under pressure when the game’s on the line and you’re kicking in Denver in the snow and it’s overtime.”
Silberman plans to prove she’s up for the task.
AP sports writers John Wawrow, Rob Maaddi, Joe Kay and freelancer Joseph Santoliquito contributed to this report.