Minnesota Duluth kicker invited to Packers camp

David Nadeau spent his Sunday morning the same way he has a lot of days since his college football career ended in December — kicking.

Minnesota Duluth kicker David Nadeau (87) kicks off during a game against St. Cloud State on Nov. 13, 2010, at Malosky Stadium in Duluth. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)

While some students probably used the day to sleep in or get a head start on studying for finals, the former Minnesota Duluth placekicker was booting footballs hours after accepting an invitation to participate in rookie orientation next month for a tryout with the Green Bay Packers.

Nadeau received the news shortly after the NFL Draft concluded Saturday afternoon.

“My agent told me to just keep sitting by the phone in case something pops up,” Nadeau said. “I got a call from him about 5 or 6 o’clock that they wanted me to come to their minicamp.”

Twitter was abuzz Saturday night with chatter from friends and former teammates that the Bulldogs senior and lifelong Packers fan from White Bear Lake, Minn., would be going to camp with Green Bay.

“Dave nadeau to the pack??? #ithinkso #theleague,” UMD tight end Ben Helmer tweeted.

Nadeau’s most memorable kick came at the end of the 2010 season on a 32-yard field goal as time expired that gave the Bulldogs a 17-14 victory over Delta State for their second NCAA Division II national championship in three seasons.

The four-year starter holds nearly every kicking record at UMD as well as the program’s all-time scoring mark with 390 career points. Nadeau also was a three-time All-Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference selection (2009-2011).

Nadeau said playing Division II college football “allowed me to show my potential. I came in here and started as a freshman. I had four years of experience. If I had played Division I, I definitely wouldn’t have had that. Experience helps me out a lot.”

UMD athletic director Bob Nielson returned to coaching football in 2008 after a five-year absence to lead the Bulldogs to their first NCAA championship in Nadeau’s freshman season.

“I think David certainly demonstrated over his four-year career his development as a kicker. He had tremendous years, made kicks in big games; it’s that kind of exposure, particularly with a special-teams player like Dave, that’s important,” Nielson said. “The opportunity that he had here with our program and how he utilized it created situations where he’s going to get an opportunity to get looked at at the next level.”

Nadeau prepared for that next step by kicking throughout the winter — which he said wasn’t easy.

“It was a little difficult in the winter. I’d clear off some snow off the field and kick,” Nadeau said. “The winter was good, though, because we didn’t have a whole lot of snow. I’ve also been in the weight room, staying in shape and biking.”

The conditions weren’t always cold, though. In early March, Nadeau took a trip to Phoenix to participate in former NFL special-teams coordinator Gary Zauner’s kicking combine for college seniors.

“After he was successful there, we kind of had an inkling that he’d have a shot at something,” said Helmer, a senior captain next season and Nadeau’s roommate. “We had an idea of it, but until it came to fruition it was kind of crazy.”

Helmer, who was a redshirt freshman, came to UMD the same time as Nadeau. The Ellsworth, Wis., native quickly bonded with Nadeau once he found out the kid from the Twin Cities was a Green Bay fan.

“The Packers were having that family night scrimmage they have,” Helmer said. “We were both in our dorm rooms and went out and watched it together on TV.”

While wearing No. 87 at UMD, the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Nadeau physically resembled a tight end more than the stereotypical kicker.

“He’s a different kind of kicker because he would work out,” Helmer said. “Dave’s always been a guy that’s worked out really, really hard. You’d never think that he’s the kicker. He’s a big guy.

“He knows a lot about the game. He never got the whole ‘kicker’ tag. He’s always been a big guy.”

His actions weren’t very kicker-like, either, according to Nielson.

“David really became a leader on our football team. You wouldn’t necessarily make that statement about a kicker,” he said. “We’re excited for him to have this opportunity. He’s a great ambassador for our program.”

Nadeau, who’s set to graduate in May with a degree in civil engineering, was thrilled to get a chance to try out for an NFL team, especially his favorite one.

“Absolutely,” he said. “Of course, I’d be happy playing for anybody.”

The Packers’ rookie-orientation camp is scheduled for May 11-13 in Green Bay.

This story originally appeared on duluthnewstribune.com.

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