Sophomore Nebraska kicker Barret Pickering stepping away from the game
Nebraska's bad luck at the kicker position took another turn this week.
Sophomore scholarship kicker Barret Pickering told Lincoln TV station KOLN that he is leaving the game for "health reasons." The news of his departure was first reported by the Omaha World Herald. It's not known on this point if Pickering is going on to medical scholarship, as NU has no official comment on the situation at this time.
The Alabama native started 12 games for the Huskers in 2018, but an off-season hip injury limited him to just four games of action in 2019, which allowed him to take a redshirt this past season.
After a solid freshman season where Pickering connected on 14-of-18 field goals with a long of 47 yards, he was just 3-of-5 in 2019 with a long kick of 30 yards.
His kickoffs also took a major step back, as his average distance per kick traveled just 52.6 yards, compared to 61.2 yards in 2018.
Opponents' average starting field position from 2018 to 2019 on his kickoffs also went from the 24-yard line to the 41.2-yard line according to PFF College. 33 percent of his kickoffs went for touchbacks in 2018. He was not credited with one touchback in 2019 on nine kickoffs. He also saw his hangtime go down from 3.71 to 3.51 seconds on kickoffs from 2018 to 2019.
With Pickering no longer a part of the plans, Iowa Western C.C. transfer Chase Contreraz is one of the early favorites to win the job in 2020. He made 15-of-18 kicks for IWCC in 2019 and was an NJCAA second-team All-American with a long kick of 47 yards.
The Huskers also added walk-on Tyler Crawford out of Oklahoma and return redshirt freshman Gabe Heins. It's unknown at this point if club soccer player Matt Waldoch plans to return in 2020. He has not been with the team through winter drills, but remains on the Huskers.com official roster.