Rams Get Their Kicks with Dude Perfect

Posted Jun 30, 2013

Every time Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein lines up for a kick, he picks a small target to aim for knowing that if he’s close to that small target, he’ll likely be able to hit the much larger one surrounding it.
It’s a tried and true method that’s served Zuerlein well and helped him set franchise and rookies records for the Rams last year. It also helped him split the uprights for a game winning 54-yard field goal in overtime against the Niners on Dec. 2 of last season.
Of course, picking a small target within the larger confines of a set of goalposts allows for a little more margin for error than what Zuerlein was able to do recently when the guys from Dude Perfect showed up at Rams Park.
Dude Perfect, a group of young guys not far removed from their college days at Texas A&M, has become something of an internet and YouTube sensation for their videos of people doing all sorts of amazing things.
The group’s specialty, though, is trick shots, be it shooting a basketball, throwing a football or anything else. They came to St. Louis recently to explore uncharted territory: kicking a football with Zuerlein and Rams punter Johnny Hekker and snapping it with long snapper Jake McQuaide.
“We were really excited to have the opportunity to come work with Johnny and Greg,” Dude Perfect co-founder Coby Cotton said. “One of our most requested videos has been some type of kicking edition. We are not the most talented kickers so we knew we were going to need some help in that area. So Johnny and Greg are perfect for that.”
And in many ways, the union of Hekker, Zuerlein and McQuaide with Dude Perfect was a fit that was, well, perfect. The Rams are the first NFL team to work with Dude Perfect and given the team’s burgeoning social media presence and the obvious following Dude Perfect has accumulated, the match made sense.
Adding to that, Hekker is known for his playful personality, developing a devoted group of followers on Twitter. He had no trouble getting his fellow specialists to join in the fun.
“After watching Dude Perfect’s videos over the years, we reached out to them to see if they would be interested in doing their first kicking trick shot video with the Rams,” Brian Killingsworth, the Rams vice president of marketing and brand strategy, said. “We think the unique skills that our punter, Johnny Hekker and our kicker, Greg Zuerlein displayed in the video will definitely surprise some people and inspire them to try their own kicking trick shots.”
Over a two-day period last month, the Dude Perfect crew invaded Rams Park and worked with Hekker and Zuerlein on a variety of trick kicks, not least of which was what is certain to become a YouTube must-watch from Zuerlein.
Zuerlein was asked to kick a field goal into a basketball hoop from just over 60 yards away. After numerous attempts, including quite a few that were actually too long, Zuerlein finally hit paydirt when his kick stayed online and banked off the backboard and fell through the hoop.
The kick set off a wild celebration amongst the Dude Perfect crew, Hekker, Zuerlein and the Rams rookies who just so happened to be going through a yoga class in the indoor facility while the kicking was going on.
“I think the game winner against the Niners was a little easier, a little bigger target,” an elated Zuerlein said moments after the kick went through the net. “But that was a pretty big kick. It’s tough to compare.”
Zuerlein, who borrows his aim small, miss small philosophy from Mel Gibson in the movie “The Patriot,” had kicked a couple dozen balls that just missed one direction or another in each of his attempts.
In kicking the day before, Zuerlein had some near misses that only made him more determined to ensure that he would put one in the hoop.
“When you start doing something like this, you have to prove to yourself that you can do it,” Zuerlein said. “When I was kicking, I was mainly focusing on trying to actually use this to get better. I can go through my regular routine and just try to hit a straight ball and it will help me during the season or just help me get better as a kicker.”
Hekker, who helped shag balls as Zuerlein attempted the feat, resembled a proud papa in the aftermath of his roommate’s impressive feat.
“I don’t think many people have ever witnessed something like that in their life, much less me,” Hekker said. “That was a pretty incredible feat.”
Soon after the kick went in, the entire group surrounded Cotton’s camera and another camera station near the basket to watch the replay. Considering the effort and attempts required to get such difficult shots on tape, there’s always that scary moment where the videographer wonders if he accidentally hit the erase button or missed the shot.
“When you are the person filming it, you are terrified,” Cotton said. “You just have to keep filming and hope that you got it the way you want to. You just look back at it a few minutes later.”
Of course, Zuerlein’s impressive feat is far from the only one that fans all over the world will get to see in Dude Perfect’s latest piece.
Hekker also gets involved in the act with a number of spots, including punting a ball from the roof of Rams Park into a baby pool on the practice field far away. There are other successful shots in the video too but so as not to spoil everything; Hekker would only offer that he made a few suggestions of his own.
“Kicking and punting is kind of a refined art so to be able to show it off with some crazy trick shots is fun,” Hekker said. “It’s entertaining and I think a lot of people will get a kick out of it on the internet.”
Considering that Dude Perfect had never worked with an NFL team or kickers of any kind, the list of tricks to do was a fluid one as they weren’t exactly sure what could be done and what would be deemed outrageous.
“One thing we weren’t sure about, not being NFL kickers ourselves, we don’t even know what’s feasible,” Cotton said. “We know what we think would be awesome on camera but it wasn’t until we got here that we could really watch and get some of those details down. In our wildest dreams, though, we couldn’t imagine these guys kicking it as far as they do and as accurate as they do. It’s nuts how good these guys are at the NFL level.”
The idea for Dude Perfect actually began four years ago when six college buddies began tossing out bets on some basketball shots from difficult angles. That evolved into trying all sorts of different tricks and eventually a video camera was brought out.
Fast forward to today and Dude Perfect is now a full time job for Cotton and Co. In that time they have released more than 130 videos, an iPhone game and a book. They recently crossed the one million subscriber mark on YouTube.
Included in the videos are shoots with Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, the US Olympic basketball team, NASCAR and much more.
After working with the Rams, Dude Perfect’s next goal is to do some shoots with the guys from the television show ‘Duck Dynasty,’ make a shot after jumping out of an airplane and one of the members of the group would like to be shot out of a cannon over some flying helicopters.
In the interim, the latest work with Hekker and Zuerlein figures to draw plenty of eyes. And from their perspective, the chance to break up the monotony of the offseason program by doing some trick shots was a perfect tonic.
“It’s been fun,” Hekker said. “This is the kind of stuff you do with your friends at the park and one day you get the camera out. These guys are professionals at it. They know all the angles and have the patience to really stick it out when you are doing stuff like this so it’s been a great experience. The guys from Dude Perfect are awesome. They love to have fun, joke around. It’s been fun.”