KEVIN HUBER (in visit to Paul Brown Stadium)
Q: What do you think about getting drafted by the Bengals?KH: It's awesome. I grew up in Cincinnati. I was born and raised. I'd never have dreamed I would be playing for my hometown team. It's like a dream come true. I get to stay home, stay close to my family — my support staff. So it's going to be awesome to be able to play in front of them for all those games. I'm really looking forward to it.
Q: When did you get hooked on the punting aspect of football?KH: I've been punting almost my whole life. I started off playing soccer back in grade school, kindergarten. I was always the goalie because I wasn't the fastest, but I could kick the ball farthest. There's some kicking in the family. My dad was a kicker, tight end at Xavier, when they had a team. My brother played for a little bit at Mt. Saint Joe. My sister played soccer at Davidson College. My other sister played soccer in high school. And I've got to keep my mom in there. She was a kickball champion in grade school. My grandma wanted me to say that. She was a kickball champion. So I guess kicking runs in the family.
Q: How much did playing for former and current UC head coaches Mark Dantonio and Brian Kelly help you prepare to become an NFL player?KH: It helped a lot. They kept our heads grounded. They made sure we stay focused on just getting ourselves better, versus trying to hurry the process up by getting on the NFL, whatever the future led. They really helped us in getting focused and mentally prepared for any situation that would happen. Having all those coaches around, with Coach Dantonio coming from Ohio State and the great program up there, it was just great to have him as a coach. Coach Kelly came in with a totally different coaching style, but, at the same time, he wanted the best for us and he prepared us the best. It's helped out a lot.
Q: Did it help to get coached by Marvin Lewis and Darrin Simmons in the Senior Bowl, to get familiar with the coaching staff?KH: I think it helped a lot. I see them almost once a month. I saw them at the Senior Bowl. I saw them at the combine. I saw them at the local day. I feel like I see them all the time. They're probably sick of me now. Now they're stuck with me. But it's helped a lot to see what coaching style Coach Simmons has, see what he expects of me. He's got a punting background himself. He punted at Kansas. That's going to help a lot. He'll be able to teach me everything he knows.
Q: What makes the kicking conditions in Cincinnati unique?KH: You know as well as I do, it could be 60 (degrees) one day and 25 the next. You can have 60 mile-an-hour winds. I was at the (Bengals) game last year when we had those hurricane winds. I was at the top deck, and I thought the upper-deck was going to snap off. So I went down to the lower deck and just watched. We had a couple of practices down at the (Bengals) practice fields when I was at the University of Cincinnati. I've seen the lake-effect from the river and I think it's going to help a lot, a big bonus for me being from Cincinnati.
Q: Is there anyone in the NFL that you like to emulate your kicks after?KH: I just like to watch everybody. I'm not going to try to look at one person and say, 'Well that's what I'm going to be like' because everybody's different. If you can pick up little things from everybody else, from a lot of people, and put that together — that's kind of what I try to do. Take for instance, Jeff Feagles. He's in his forties and he's still kicking. I've learned that he's going to kick to his strengths. He might not have the strongest of legs, but he positions the ball the best of anybody, directionally. So if I can pick the direction of him and the leg-strength of Shane Lechler, he's got a huge leg and can drive the ball 70 yards. So if I can pick things from everybody else, I'd like to do that. I like to watch as many people as I can.
Q: Were you expecting to go in a certain round of the draft?KH: I was hoping to go early this morning, but I knew it was going to last long. If you watch the past drafts, you look at the punters and kickers taken, I knew that I could even not get drafted. Last year there was one punter taken, and three the year before. You never know what's going to happen. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. That's kind of what I did. I was prepared to be a free agent. I put together a list of teams that I thought that I could pick from. I just hoped that I did get drafted and wouldn't have to pick.
Q: Did you pick up and drive right in from the golf course?KH: I stopped because my dad was about two holes back. They took forever. They must have had a terrible hole. They took forever to get up there. I talked to them for a little bit, then they drove me back home so I could get my car and drive on down here.
Q: When did you develop directional kicking?KH: I really think it started with this new staff. When I got with Coach Elston, (UC special teams coordinator Mike Elston), he really harped on directional punting and pinning guys on the sideline. That was one of the big things that it was going to take for me to start there. I really worked hard on that. I met with my punting coach for the first time a couple years ago and he helped me a lot with that. It wasn't until I got to college that I started realizing the in-depth details of being a better punter.
Q: How gratifying was it to be able to come through in big games last year?KH: It's nice to get the good attention. Usually punters just get bad attention. When you have a bad punt, that's when you get noticed. To get the good recognition, it's a pretty good feeling. Coming off the sideline, and you have the whole team — even the head coach giving you high-fives, that's a great feeling. It gives you a lot of confidence and a big boost. It helps you out with the next punt and the next play.