Getting His Kicks: Knuffman ready for bigger role with Necks - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Getting His Kicks: Knuffman ready for bigger role with Necks

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Redshirt-freshman Nathan Knuffman works in punting drills during Monday's practice at Hanson Field. Redshirt-freshman Nathan Knuffman works in punting drills during Monday's practice at Hanson Field.

MACOMB, Il. (WGEM) -- After only a few days of practice in his first season as head coach of Western Illinois Football, Bob Nielson made it clear at Monday's media day session that special teams has been a priority at Camp Leatherneck.

Nielson says his team has spent nearly one-third of practice time on the different phases of the kicking game.

Redshirt-freshman and Central-Southeastern product Nathan Knuffman appears to be the leader in the club house to handle kicking duties for the Necks this fall.

Knuffman tells WGEM Sports that spending a year behind former QND Raider Pat Smith, who transferred to Nebraska following the 2012 season, gave him valuable experience toward the college game.

"When I came here I was a good kicker, but he made me and even better kicker," Knuffman expressed.

"I learned from him, watched him do his reps when he started last year at all three spots. When he made a mistake I learned from him, and if I made a mistake he learned from me, so it worked out. "

Bob Nielson has been impressed with what he has seen out of Knuffman on the practice field.

"I've been really pleased with Knuffman, I was pleased with him in the spring," he said.

"Even though he's never stepped foot on a field in a live college game I think he's demonstrated that right now he's the guy to beat there."

Nielson went on to say that Knuffman has the rare opportunity to not only be the Leatherneck place kicker this fall, but also handle the punting duties as well, which is a rare commodity in today's game.

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