Norway's YouTube Kicker Sensation: NFL Bound?
Six months after showing a series of eye-popping kicks on Google's YouTube, Havard Rugland, the 28 year old Norwegian social worker, is getting legitimate looks from the National Football League.
In the clip above, Rugland kicked in all sorts of situations. Forty yards into a moving truck. Forty yards onto a drifting barge. Thirty yards into a basketball hoop. And most importantly, 60 yards straight through the uprights on a football field. The video went viral, and 2.6 million viewers—and over 10,000 likes—don't lie.
"I wanted to show that I'm a good kicker," he told us late last year when we first met him—via Microsoft's Skype, of course. "But I never thought it would end up like this."
It was so impressive, the NFL came sniffing around, and it resulted in a trip to the U.S. for the 6-foot-2, 245-pound Norwegian. He spent time with the New York Jets, with kicking coach Michael Husted and his new agent.
"I saw a lot of potential on his YouTube video, so I signed him right there," his agent Jill baxter told us.
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This is where the story gets real interesting. Rugland went back home undeterred but under-funded. He wanted to come over the U.S. to train full time, but he did not have enough money.
In stepped Norwegian tech company Videxio. They chipped in some money, and Rugland was back on a plane.
"Havard's story and ambitions resonate well with our values and Videxio would like to contribute to his success," Videxio CEO Tom-Erik Lia said on the company's website.
After practicing under Husted's tutelage, Rugland went to Detroit for a tryout last Tuesday. "I think the tryout went well, and I think I got to show them some of my potential," Rugland told CNBC.
He said, he hit a 55-yard field goal but is still adjusting to kicking on an NFL field with the pressure to perform.
"I've made some changes on my technique," Rugland explained. "My biggest challenge is getting consistant with the new technique."
Next up is the "Husted Pro Camp" in Florida this week, where more NFL scouts will be on hand. After that, Rugland said he has another private workout with an NFL team.
"It's difficult to say what my odds are, but I feel that my chances are good to make it at some point," he said.
And if he does make it, the opportunity will change his financial life.
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Even on a practice squad, Rugland would make around $150,000—established NFL kickers make approximately $2 million a year.
—By CNBC's Brian Shactman; Follow him on Twitter: @bshactman