‘Combo’ kicker Nordin willing to do whatever UM needs

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Former Michigan kicker Brandon Kornblue, left, said Quinn Nordin has become one of the best "combo" kickers in the country.

Quinn Nordin may be forever known as the kicking recruit who hosted Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh for a sleepover, an event that over a few days generated plenty of national headlines, bumper-to-bumper social media traffic and, naturally, a few jokes.

Nordin, the nation’s No. 1 kicker from Rockford, originally was committed to Penn State. He was being heavily pursued by the Wolverines, and Harbaugh decided he wanted to push the recruiting envelope and arrive at Nordin’s home at 12:01 a.m. to spend as much time as possible with him.

“That was a ‘Hee haw haw’ that happened,” Nordin laughingly told The Detroit News in a recent interview. “That’s having fun. For a kicker, for a coach to do that, that’s ridiculous.”

Nordin ultimately committed to Michigan and will arrive in Ann Arbor June 26 to begin offseason workouts. He still laughs about the mid-January sleepover.

“He called me and said, ‘I want to sleep over,’ and I was like, ‘Whaaaaaaaaaat?’” Nordin said, laughing.

Nordin asked why he so self-deprecatingly thought that was such a stretch.

“Realistically, why would a coach come over for that?” he asked matter-of-factly. “I’m the kicker. I’m not scoring 400 points.

“But I’m happy with the result. It was a great experience, and I’m glad it happened. There are always going to be naysayers about it, and some people are going to be negative, but my family and friends thought it was hilarious.”

Kenny Allen returns as Michigan’s kicker this fall and worked a considerable amount on punting during spring practice. Typically, at most programs, splitting the kicking duties is preferred.

“He has a very good sense of how much he can handle physically,” tight ends and assistant special teams coach Jay Harbaugh said during a spring practice news conference, referring to Allen. “Ideally, you’d have a different person for everything. If (Allen) happens to be the best guy at each spot, we’re good with that.”

Nordin, under the tutelage of Brandon Kornblue, founder of Kornblue Kicking and the Fab 50 national rankings of kickers, punters and snappers, has been working on all phases of kicking. After attending Michigan’s spring game on April 1, Nordin headed to Florida to train with Kornblue, a former Michigan kicker.

Kornblue recently shared via Twitter a video of Nordin’s 74-yard kickoff with a 4.35 hang time during that Florida visit.

“I knew from probably the end of his sophomore year that he was going to be something special and a highly recruited Division I athlete,” said Kornblue, who has worked with a number of the nation’s top kickers over the years. “I could not have predicted this. He had more offers than any kicker than I can remember with over 25 offers. The second closest guy had seven or eight. For a kicker, that’s a big deal.”

If Allen solidifies the kicking job again, punting could be an option for the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Nordin this fall at Michigan. He understands that and has been practicing.

In Kornblue’s Fab 50, Nordin is the No. 1 rated kicker and No. 2 punter in the 2016 class. He said he averaged 53.3 yards a punt and landed 11 of 13 inside the 20.

“I worked my butt off to get where I am kicking and punting-wise,” said Nordin, adding he was disappointed he did not reach No. 1 in both categories. “If I want to be a next-level talent, I need to do everything I can do to do everything.

“During my sophomore and junior years, I thought of myself predominantly as a kicker. Along the way, coach Kornblue told me to be at the highest level you have to do everything. I thought I could try punting during high school this (past season).”

Kornblue said he encourages all of the kickers at his camps to punt, as well, although punting is not “as fun or natural” until they learn to do it effectively. He said Nordin has become one of the best “combo” kickers in the country.

Nordin, who has known Allen for years while attending some of the same kicking camps and has a deep respect for him, wants to be as versatile as possible and made it clear he’s open to all possibilities.

“Whatever Michigan needs to me to do, even quarterback,” Nordin said, laughing. “What I’ve been told by coach Harbaugh and the other coaches, they have Kenny Allen, who I know is a fifth-year senior and is doing a wonderful job. I’m going to be there to compete and do the best of my ability and help push Kenny. I’m going to try my hardest to be on the field. Whatever coach wants me, I’m competing for whatever job possible.”

Kornblue has witnessed first-hand how disciplined a worker Nordin is and how much he wants to perfect his craft.

“He has worked extremely hard,” Kornblue said. “He came down a couple years ago and stayed with me for four days. Every morning, he woke up at 7 a.m. to jog a couple miles before anybody else in the house was up. That was same weekend, he had a 65-yard field goal we got on film.

“All of this was not an act to impress me. It was clearly part of his routine. That was one of the pieces to show the work ethic and how serious he is about training and getting better. He has that drive. (Top kickers) Kyle Brindza, John Lunsford, they have that intangible quality of an internal drive. That’s one of the things that separates (Nordin).”


Twitter: @chengelis