Not two months removed from graduating, former Oregon kicker Aidan Schneider has already secured his first job — he just hopes it’s not the one he’ll have after April 28, the final day of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Schneider wants that to be the last day he’ll have to worry about delivering mattresses, the part-time job he’s held for the last several weeks as he lives at home in Portland and prepares for his first shot at making an NFL roster.
Doing so won’t be easy. Kicking jobs in the NFL are few and far between, and potential first-year players don’t often make a roster their first time.
Schneider understands this, and recognizes that his road to the pros will be harder than most. The former Grant High School soccer standout only started playing football as a junior in high school. He navigated his way from being a walk-on at Oregon to one of the best kickers in program history. Even as he leaves with his name littered throughout the record books, Schneider is a relatively middle-of-the-road NFL prospect.
“I joke with my family that I was a walk-on in college and I’m going to have to be a walk-on in the NFL, too,” Schneider told the Emerald.
At nearly every turn over his four-year career, Schneider performed above expectations. He took over as Oregon’s full-time kicker his freshman year, dethroning Matt Wogan, who came to Oregon as the second-best kicking prospect in the country. Over Schneider’s next four years, he made the most field goals in program history (51) and did so at the best rate in program history (85 percent).
One would think that posting these kinds of numbers would guarantee Schneider a spot on an NFL roster. But the biggest issue with his body of work is what NFL teams covet in a kicker: power. Schneider was almost automatic from within 50 yards, but never attempted an in-game 50-plus yard field goal.
He’s confident he can do it consistently, but not being able to showcase that in college has certainly made his climb to the pros a little steeper.
“It was kind of frustrating not being able to showcase that in college,” he said. “Oregon is not the place for long field goals.”
However, Oregon’s pro day was. Schneider showed off his leg for scouts, routinely landing kicks in the endzone from 60-plus yards away. He talked with several scouts afterward, but hasn’t heard from any of those teams yet.
His one current scheduled workout is with the Seattle Seahawks. Even if nothing pans out this offseason, Schneider said he’d keep trying.
His kicking coach, Gary Zauner, a former NFL special teams coach who now offers his knowledge to aspiring pro kickers, told Schneider that it’s difficult for undrafted players to make teams. Schneider isn’t projected to be drafted and said he’d be thrilled to make a team this offseason, but at the very least, he wants to show teams that he belongs.
“The goal for the first year is to get into camp with someone and just perform well,” Schneider said. “I think how long I stick with will depend on the opportunities I get, because as long as I get an opportunity and get positive feedback, I’m going to keep trying.”
The odds are against him, but that’s familiar territory for Schneider. He’s just ready for the next chapter of his life and for the opportunities that follow.
“I guess it’s not your typical athlete, chip-on-the-shoulder story, but I’m sure plenty of people thought I couldn’t play D1 football,” Schneider said. “So I’m really in the same spot now.”
Follow Gus Morris on Twitter @JustGusMorris