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Cowboys free agents: How kicker Brandon Aubrey found his way to Dallas

The Cowboys have a competition going at kicker for training camp, adding free agent Brandon Aubrey to the mix with Tristan Vizcaino.

USFL: New Jersey Generals at Birmingham Stallions Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

When the Dallas Cowboys open training camp in a few weeks, they’ll be no shortage of intriguing storylines. Among the battles to watch are slot cornerback and backup running back. However, the competition at placekicker is equally important and sure to draw everyone’s attention.

By now, most fans know why the Cowboys are having a kicking competition in the first place, but let’s summarize things briefly. Entering last season, the Cowboys entrusted veteran Brett Maher with kicking duties for a second time and, despite having a mostly consistent season, lost his groove at the tail end of the Cowboys’ postseason run. for most of the offseason, the Cowboys carried Tristan Vizcaino as the only kicker on the roster. That is until last week when they signed Brandon Aubrey, but who is Brandon Aubrey?

Aubrey has taken a unique path to the NFL. He didn’t play college football. Aubrey, a native of Plano, TX, played soccer for the Fighting Irish at the University of Notre Dame as a defender. Over his collegiate career, Aubrey scored 15 goals, going a perfect five-for-five on penalty kicks with 34 career points.

Following his time with the Fighting Irish, Aubrey was drafted by Toronto FC in the first round of the 2017 MLS SuperDraft. Despite his efforts, Toronto would release Aubrey at the conclusion of his rookie season and subsequently he was out of the MLS.

When transitioning from soccer player to placekicker, Aubrey began working with former NFL kickers John Carney and Nick Novak and participating in online workouts.

When asked about the change to placekicker, Aubrey would draw helpful pointers from his experience playing soccer:

“I always took penalties my junior and senior year at Notre Dame, and that’s kind of like what I would equate to hitting a field goal — it’s a pressure moment, you get time to stare down your decision, the whistle blows and you try and score,” Aubrey said. “That same motion of hitting that long ball, it’s the same pretty much as striking a football so it translates pretty well. It’s just getting that muscle memory of striking the ball the exact same way every time and getting the consistency.”

Aubrey resurrected his sports career in the USFL when the Birmingham Stallions selected him as a placekicker in the 2022 USFL Draft. Over the two past seasons with the Stallions, Aubrey has made 32 of his 37 field goal attempts (86%), missing just one field goal in 2023. Aubrey assisted the Stallions in winning the USFL title for back-to-back seasons in 2022 and 2023. Aubrey’s signing with the Cowboys reunites him with former Stallions teammate KaVontae Turpin.

Aubrey will be in a hotly contested competition with Tristan Vizcaino, who has also been surprisingly consistent, although in a small sample size, making nine of his ten attempts. The Cowboys will have practices and three preseason games for each showcase to make their case for the job. Look for the Cowboys to take a “conservative” approach in scoring distance to give both kickers an ample opportunity to come out the winner.

Both will be fighting to avoid the fate of last year when kickers Jonathan Garibray and Lirim Hajrullahu battled early in training camp, only for both to lose out on the job which eventually went to Maher. With names like Robbie Gould and Mason Crosby still out there in free agency, one of the two, Aubrey or Vizcaino, will need a strong start early to keep the job.

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