NU offers elite kicker

Northwestern has offered one of the most sought-after kickers in the nation.
Punter/kicker Michael Palardy of Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas picked up offers from Northwestern and Purdue over the last two days, bringing his offer total to 14, according to coach Tim Conrad of BIGFoot Kicking.
The 6-foot, 170-pounder is taking unofficial visits to Tennessee and Alabama this weekend, and Conrad said that he will pare his list when he returns.
He plans to continue to take unofficial visits this summer, as well as all five of his allotted officials in the fall.
Palardy has a booming leg, as evidenced by the 95 percent of his kickoffs that went for touchbacks in 2008. Surprisingly, he only attempted five field goals last season, hitting four, including a long of 43 yards. He also made 76-of-78 extra points.
Palardy said in a recent Rivals update that most of the 14 schools on his offer list are recruiting him as both a kicker and punter.
Northwestern's more urgent special teams need for the Class of 2010 is at punter. Northwestern's punting will once again be handled by Stefan Demos in 2009, but the junior from Arizona has just two years of eligibility left and will be backed up by only incoming freshman walkon Brandon Williams this season.
Demos may also pull double-duty as the Wildcats' kicker as he figures to battle incoming freshman Jeff Budzien for the placekicking job.
Redshirt freshman walkon Steve Flaherty is expected to provide depth at placekicer for the Wildcats.
Northwestern has offered scholarships to the top two punters in the nation this year. Matt Darr, the No. 1 punter in the nation according to kicking guru Chris Sailer, committed to USC this week. The Wildcats also have an oustanding offer to Whitefish Bay (Wis.) punter Will Hagerup, Sailer's second-ranked punter.