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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hand and Foot

Senior wideout and holder Adam Thielen (left) holds for
Sam Brockshus (right) in MSU's win over MSU Moorhead
earlier this season.

The relationship between a holder and a kicker is one of the more unique ones in sports.  It is one built on trust, one that must be solidified on repetition.   For Minnesota State senior holder (and wideout) Adam Thielen and junior kicker Sam Brockshus, it is one that blossomed over the last three years.

Thielen has served as the primary holder for Brockshus for the better part of each of their careers, minus a few games missed when Thielen was injured and Brockshus’ redshirt season a year ago.  But it is safe to say that for the majority of Brockshus’ 225 points, it has been Thielen putting the ball on the ground for the hold.

“It took a little time for each of us to get used to each other,” said Thielen.  “But it probably took more time for Sam to get used to me than the other way around.  Like anything, we practice it quite a bit, especially during two-a-days.”

Thielen has taken his leadership role seriously this season as he serves as one of four team captains.   

He enters this week’s game as MSU’s active leader in receptions (53), yards (804), receiving touchdowns (6) and receiving yards per game (89.3).  In the Mavericks’ 30-20 win at Winona State on Oct. 20, Thielen hauled in ten catches for 128 yards and three touchdowns.  Additionally, he has caught 28 passes over the last three games for 394 yards and five touchdowns.

Ironically enough, Brockshus also recorded one of his best games as a Maverick against the Warriors as well, as he turned in a 12-point effort after nailing all three of his field goal and extra point attempts, including a career-long 47-yarder.  For the season, the Spencer, Iowa native has hit on 15-of-19 field goal attempts and 38-of-39 PATs en route to scoring a team-high 83 points this season.

For both of them they were named the NSIC Offensive and Special Teams player of the week for the effort.

Thielen, a native of Detroit Lakes, Minn., and sophomore offensive lineman and longsnapper Josh Meeker were the only players to have their hands on all 30 points in the win over the Warriors.
When asked about the career-long 47-yarder by Brockshus, Thielen knew it was true without even looking up.

“I knew right away,” said Thielen.  “I can tell the way it comes off my hand, how he kicks it, and by the sound.”

Kickers are known for being a bit quirky, but if there any quirks about Brockshus, they aren’t known, at least to us. 

“Prior to every kick, Adam tells me the same thing,” says Brockshus.  “ ‘Tempo.’ Once he says that, I know we are good to go.  Sometimes he gives me a high five but not much other than that.”

The duo is close both on the field and off it.

“We have a great relationship,” said Thielen.  “He is guy you want to be around.  It makes it easier to be on the field with a guy who doesn’t blame the holder when things go wrong.  And I don’t blame him either.”

“Adam does a great job keeping me relaxed,” said Brockshus.  “Both on the field and off he is very easy going.  He is such a great leader for this team.”

For both of them, their seasons are mirroring their careers.  Thielen ranks second in career receptions (177), third in receiving yards (2,430) and fourth in touchdown receptions (18) while Brockshus ranks second in points scored (225), second in PAT kicks made (123), tied for second in PAT kicks attempted (129), fourth in field goals made (34), and sixth in field goals attempted (47). 

Jamie Pass (left) holds for Kenny Navitsky in a contest
against North Dakota State on Oct. 2, 1993
But they aren’t the only duo ranks so highly amongst the school’s all-time holder/kicker combinations.  Perhaps prior to the Thielen/Brockshus tandem, the most prolific holder and kicker combo was Jamie Pass and Kenny Navitsky.  Pass, who was one of MSU’s most successful quarterbacks, held for Navitsky who is the Mavericks all-time leader in points scored (241), PAT kicks made (136), PAT kicks attempted (147), field goals attempted (62) and tied for the all-time lead in field goals made (35).

Much like Thielen and Brockshus, Pass and Navitsky had a great relationship on and off the field as well.

“He was my best friend and my roommate,” said Navitsky. “A lot of people don’t realize it, but the reason he came in to hold is that I went through a span of holders after Augie Hubbard graduated.  After that I had three different guys during camp and it was a disaster.  Finally, Jamie literally said ‘I am going to hold for you.’  Coach Runkle wasn’t over the moon for it, but he took charge.  His confidence obviously was overwhelmingly contagious. I am a confident guy but Jamie walked on a cloud of confidence and that is huge when you are a kicker, because when you get a good snap and good hold, you have no excuse not to make it.”

Brockshus has his sights set on virtually all of Navitsky’s records, but you wouldn’t know it by talking to him.

“It is hard sometimes not to get wrapped up in records and whatnot,” said Brockshus. “I take the approach that the reason I have scored so many points is purely a direct reflection of how good the teams have been since I have been here and how lucky I have been to be a part of some really good teams that score a lot of points and some great defenses that give the offense and myself good field position.  It (the records) is something I try not to think about too much but it does come up and it has really been an honor to be a part of.”

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