Mark Snyder , Detroit Free Press
For Kenny Allen, this weekend is a wild card.
Michigan’s former do-everything specialist has little idea how the NFL draft will turn out for him.
But he won’t be waiting around just to find out.
If there’s one thing kickers and punters know, it’s that with few exceptions, their moment comes later.
So Allen, despite his success as a kicker at U-M, will be heading to the NFL primarily as a punter and kickoff specialist. He’ll start watching for himself in the NFL draft around Round 7 late Saturday afternoon.
“I’ve been trying to perform my best at these kicking camps I’ve been going to and pro day and figure if I did well there then my college tape would speak for itself,” Allen said. “I’m hoping to get drafted but an opportunity is what I’m looking for. I think an opportunity will come.”
Though he’s the second-most accurate kicker in Michigan history at 82.2%, punting is his future. In just one season as U-M’s primary punter, in 2016, Allen finished with the eighth-best average at 43.3 yards per punt, and that was with the kicking and kickoff duties as well.
The NFL.com grading system has Allen tied for the second-best grade among punters in the draft, so he has a chance to get in the mix near the end. Last year, three punters were drafted.
Though he hasn’t had any visits, Allen has done everything he can for exposure in the past few months.
He attended the Zauner college senior combine Feb. 24-26 in Arizona, where Gary Zauner coordinates a showcase for college seniors, allowing teams to scout prospects.
Then Allen spent time working with California with former NFL punter Darren Bennett before returning to Michigan in March for the U-M pro day and the Detroit Lions’ regional combine.
“When I talk to them, they thought I had a good chance,” Allen said. “With punters and kickers it’s a lot of times a timing thing, if they have one on the roster. Sometimes you have to wait and be patient.”
Since leaving Michigan, Allen has learned the value of patience.
In addition to his daily practice, part of his routine involves less conventional workouts. Which is where he’ll be Saturday likely in the morning, staying with his routine.
“I work out in the morning, do some Pilates, some yoga, then I’ll go kick for a little bit,” he said. “I tried to get more into (Pilates and yoga) after I left college. We were on our strict weightlifting which was great then. Now opening my options up in yoga. And Pilates has been helping out a lot too.
“I definitely notice a difference in flexibility, alignment and how you feel.”
This weekend, those will be important traits.