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From video to field, Norwegian 'Kickalicious' seeking NFL job

CBSSports.com wire reports
Rugland's powerful leg has drawn the interest of numerous NFL teams. (AP)
Rugland's powerful leg has drawn the interest of numerous NFL teams. (AP)

SAN DIEGO -- When Detroit Lions scouts couldn't pronounce Havard Rugland's name during his trial for the NFL this week, they took to calling him "Kickalicious."

Rugland is the Norwegian Internet kicking sensation who hopes to parlay his incredible trick-shot video -- which he called "Kickalicious" -- into a dream job kicking for an NFL team.

Next up for Rugland is a trip to Michael Husted's pro kicking camp in Florida, where the goal is to be seen by more NFL teams.

Rugland feels his tryout in Detroit went well, despite tweaking the hamstring in his powerful left leg. He's refined his kicking motion while working with Husted in San Diego since having a tryout with the New York Jets in December.

"I think the thing they liked most was my leg strength," said Rugland, who is 6-foot-2 and 240 pounds (1.88 meters, 109 kilos). "That's always good. Of course, you're always working on your consistency. That's never 100 percent, so that's what I'm working on."

While Rugland works to learn a sport he became familiar with only about two years ago by watching the Super Bowl on TV, NFL personnel are learning about Rugland. His first name is pronounced HO-var.

"They tried to pronounce my name but just went with `Kickalicious,"' Rugland said.

The video of the same name has amassed more than 2.5 million views since Rugland posted it in September. It shows the former footballer kicking and punting a football through uprights from as far away as 60 yards, from straight on and also from incredible angles. He also kicks a ball to a friend on a boat on a lake, in a moving car, on a skateboard, on a railroad bridge, on a hill, on a bluff overlooking a beach and over trees.

So he's got the showmanship down. Now he's trying to get a job kicking NFL-style in front of 70,000 fans on Sundays.

"I'm pretty optimistic," he said on Thursday at La Jolla High School, one of his practice sites. "I believe I've got a pretty good chance to get a contract. If not right away, I will get one because I really do think that I'm at least going to be good enough and I just have to be better than the people I'm competing with and make them believe in me and go with a guy without too much experience."

Husted and Rugland's agent, Jill McBride Baxter, are optimistic, too.

"He's got great potential," Husted said. "On the other side, you need more than that. You need connections and to have a little bit of luck on your side, I always tell people that there are kickers who were better than me who did not make it, and I was fortunate to have a nine-year NFL career."

Husted said the ideal situation would be for Rugland to be signed by a team and then have minicamps, training camp and exhibition games to see how he adjusts and acclimates to the NFL. An alternative would be for a team to recognize his potential and sign him to the practice squad where he could learn for a year.

Husted said he's persuaded Rugland to shorten his approach from three steps to two, to follow through and use his whole body.

"He's a big boy, so if he can get enough weight into it, it'll fly," Husted said.

Husted said he's also heard from Jan Stenerud, the only pure kicker in the U.S. Pro Football Hall of Fame who also happens to be from Norway.

"I grew up idolizing Jan Stenerud as a kid," Husted said. "He's excited to see another Norwegian have an opportunity to make it in the NFL."

Baxter said several teams are interested in having Rugland work out for them, but it all depends on how free agency and the draft play out from next week.

Rugland is trying to take a similar route to the NFL as Darren Bennett, the former Australian Rules player who became a star punter for the San Diego Chargers in the mid-1990s.

Bennett was so raw that during his first tryout with the Chargers, during his honeymoon, a snap hit him in the face.

Rugland hasn't had such a moment.

"No, I've done pretty good then!" he said. "But he had to catch them himself. I'm just standing there. I've got a holder doing that job."

After the workout with the Jets, Rugland returned home and secured a sponsorship from Norwegian company Videxio, which allowed him to come to San Diego.

The perfect destination for Rugland, of course, would be the Minnesota Vikings. In the meantime, Rugland has spent time practicing at La Jolla High, whose nickname is the Vikings.

"I feel right at home," Rugland said.

Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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