Backed up to his own 10 yard line with a 7-point lead at the beginning of the second half, Brian Buschini wanted to help the team. A bowl bid already flew out the window by the time Wisconsin arrived in Lincoln for the Huskers’ final home game of 2022. Nebraska guaranteed itself another losing season. The Huskers still attacked the final stretch of the season and Buschini punted to help the team.
He received the snap and started his kick. His approach led him to the 15 yard line before his right foot struck a booming punt for Memorial Stadium to gasp at. Wisconsin receiver Dean Engram braced to catch the punt. He didn’t. Engram looked to gather it on the hop but he didn’t. The ball bounced through the back of the end zone for a 74-yard punt. And instead of capitalizing on field position from 0 yards allowed, the Badgers started from scratch.
“It’s really exciting when we’re backed up, honestly,” Buschini told Hail Varsity earlier this week, “because that’s the real opportunity to help the team out.”
Nebraska’s punter shared some of his time with Hail Varsity as part of our annual Yearbook. This year, your subscription to Hail Varsity gets you something new with the yearbook. Instead of the calendar insert, readers and subscribers will receive a special Hail Varsity Kids’ Edition. That consists of special Husker-related activities for kids, plus guides to play like the Huskers they cheer for and highlights on their favorite things. Nebraska soccer standout and Gretna graduate Sarah Weber — as well as a few other athletes — shares some of her favorite things. Husker linebacker Chief Borders tries a new sport just for you, the reader. And Buschini, one of the Big Ten’s top returning punters, shares a step-by-step guide to punting.
While sharing his tips with Hail Varsity, Nebraska’s punter shared some of the things he likes about punting. Of course there’s the adrenaline of the Tunnel Walk (“that’s sick”). Near the top of the list, along with helping the team, is the pressure situation. He mentioned the Rutgers and Iowa games where both sent the house to get the ball. Get the ball off, flip the field, come up clutch. The Huskers punted on six of their first nine drives against Rutgers, two of the others ended in interceptions. Rutgers got to one punt, where Buschini’s kicking foot actually went into the helmet of the oncoming Scarlet Knight. He hobbled, clearly in pain, but always returned to punt.
“I was able to come through last year pretty decent,” he said, “just being able to have a quick operation time in those moments and obviously still get a good punt off for the team.”
Buschini channeled coaches from throughout his career who called the punt the most important and dangerous play in football. He explained their rationale. For one, field position is incredibly important and flipping field position pins the opponent further from the end zone. There’s also so much that could go wrong on a punt—a big return, a block, a bad snap or even a shanked punt. He approaches each punt with the same importance regardless of the game situation.
When asked if he wanted to provide encouragements or tips for aspiring specialists, Buschini urged them to take it seriously and work hard. Punting isn’t an easy way to join the football team. He reiterated the preconceptions surrounding punters and his desire to shatter those opinions. People imagine the punter being the least athletic player on the team, but those days are gone. He referenced former New York Giants punter Steve Weatherford who could leg press 1,100 pounds 12 times, could squat 475 pounds and benched nearly 400 pounds.
“It’s not a position where you can slack off, and I see a lot of guys kind of taking that route sometimes,” Buschini said. “I want the kickers and punters to be respected by their teammates. The only way to do that is to work really hard, and to show your teammates that you care.”
Buschini also encourages young athletes to try multiple sports. At Nebraska he specializes in football. But he believes an aspiring collegiate athlete gets better overall gains while performing in different sports year-round during elementary, middle and high school ages. At the same time he encourages those kids to enjoy their youth and time at that level while they can. It’s one thing to stay focused on improvements. It’s another thing to only focus on workouts and lose track of irreplaceable moments.
For punting tips and more from Buschini and other Huskers, pick up the Hail Varsity Kids’ Yearbook included in this year’s Annual Yearbook. To ensure you receive your copies, subscribe to Hail Varsity.
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