Hauschka Signs NFL Contract
April 29, 2008
Steve Hauschka signed a free-agent contract with the Minnesota Vikings at the conclusion of the 2008 NFL draft on Sunday. Hauschka, who graduated from Middlebury College in 2007 with a degree in neuroscience, had an extra season of eligibility and enrolled at North Carolina State's graduate school this past fall. He earned a spot on the Wolfpack as the team's placekicker this past season, making a combined 95% of his field goals and PAT's.
The Needham, Massachusetts native had a splendid three-year career as the Panthers' placekicker and punter, earning All-NESCAC awards at both positions along with being tabbed for the All-New England Team. He broke Middlebury's single-season record with 10 field goals in '06 and owns the career record for made field goals with 20. Additionally, with a 3.54 GPA, Hauschka was selected as a District 1 Academic All-American in his senior campaign. Besides three seasons on the gridiron, Hauschka played two years of lacrosse and one year of soccer during his first fall on campus.
At N.C. State, Hauschka earned his spot on the team as a rare fifth-year transfer, winning the placekicking job in pre-season. He handled kickoffs, made all 25 extra point attempts, while connecting on 16 of 18 field goals on the year. The highlight of his season was a game-winning, 42-yard overtime kick at Miami.
Hauschka also earned academic accolades at N.C. State, being named a first-team Academic All-ACC selection, while being honored by the National Football Foundation (NFF) and College Football Hall of Fame as a member of the 2008 NFF Hampshire Honor Society.
With the free-agent signing, Hauschka finds himself in the select company of NFL legacies. Steve's father Peter had a short stint as a placekicker in the 1960's with the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears before starting a career in dentistry. He will be battling for one of the coveted 53 roster spots for the Vikings, competing directly with 12-year veteran Ryan Longwell for kicking duties.
"I thought I might go at No. 239 or No. 240 (Chiefs and Ravens) because the special teams coach of both teams had called me and told me they might take me," Hauschka said. "When they didn't take me, I knew it was free agency.
"Then, I got a ton of calls and I had about 30 seconds to decide which offer to take. The Vikings had the best offer."
Hauschka will be flying to the Vikings training camp on Thursday (5/1) and has practices scheduled there the rest of the week.
"If it were an ideal world, I would be going to a place where the kicking job was wide open," Hauschka said.
"Things have changed so fast. It's fun sometimes to think about being on the practice field that first time back at Middlebury and to think about how far I have come."
Hauschka is the second Panther in as many years to be signed by an NFL team. Classmate Kevin Ryan '07, the nation's sack leader in Division III in 2006, signed a free agent contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2007. Regardless of the length of their respective NFL careers, both Middlebury grads have been accepted to dental school.
--Joe Early 802-443-3444--