Norwegian kicker dreams of NFL after viral video

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“When I received that, obviously I was excited, but I had to check out the name and email address to make sure it was genuine, and not some friend who was pulling a prank,” he said.

It was real. The Jets were genuinely interested _ on the condition that Rugland spend some time with a kicking coach first to hone his skills. So the week after Thanksgiving, the Norwegian traveled to California to spend a few weeks with Michael Husted _ a former NFL kicker who now runs a training camp in San Diego and had reached out to Rugland after seeing his video on a Facebook page.

Husted said he’s often approached by soccer players interested in trying their hand _ or foot, rather _ at kicking field goals, hoping to become the next Sebastian Janikowski. But he had seen enough of Rugland in the video to know he was special.

“He’s definitely the most impressive nonfootball kicker that I’ve worked with,” Husted said by phone. “When he hits it, it’s going to go. He hits it just as high, just as far as a lot of the NFL kickers, if not further.”

In fact, Husted sees a lot of similarities between Rugland and Janikowski, the Oakland Raiders kicker from Poland. They’re both left-footed, more than 6 feet tall and have the same kind of leg strength.

Rugland’s video shows him hitting field goals from 60 yards with ease. The NFL record _ shared by Janikowski and three others _ is 63 yards.

Rugland thinks he could hit one from “well beyond” 60, and Husted said that’s very possible.

“Heck, if he’s in Denver he can probably hit it from 65,” Husted said.

The Jets liked what they saw enough to invite Rugland back for a second audition in March.

Meantime, he wants to spend more time with Husted to refine his technique and consistency, and he’s looking for a sponsor to help pay for another stay in San Diego since he would need to take an unpaid leave of absence from his job as a youth counselor for the local child protective services.

Training on his own isn’t so easy these days, given the winter climate in Norway.

“It’s hard to get better when you’re practicing in the snow,” he said.

Husted has put him in touch with an agent, Jill McBride Baxter, who is trying to get him back in the U.S.

“It’s not easy,” said the Los Angeles-based McBride Baxter, whose other NFL clients include Jets punter Robert Malone and Miami Dolphins wide receiver Marlon Moore. “He’s got a life in Norway. He works with youth. He’s got a job. He’s got a dog.”

He also still has a lot to work on. Power is one thing, but getting timing and technique right is equally important. Before working with Husted, Rugland had never kicked with a snap and hold.

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