NFL Draft Class: 2003 5th Round
High School Sr. Class: 2000
Hometown: Metarie, LA
High School: Destrahan HS
College: Western Illinois
Height / Weight: 6/2 236 lbs.
Position: Punter / Kicker / Holder
6 Time Pro Bowl Squad
Paul Assad, Pro College Football Player Development and Scouting comments: One of the strongest Punters even seen. Demonstrated booming 5.3-5.5 hang time 50-65 yard punts. Had tendency to attack his steps and really attack the ball having his momentum pull him forward and up. Initially, when working with Instructor Paul Assad showed tendency to cross steps but holds the ball so long that he is able to still get the ball on his foot and hit it on the upswing. Was among ALL TIME BEST NFL PUNTERS and is maybe, the best Punter in NFL History as far as ability. Rumoured to be clocked at 5.9 in Denver on a Punt.
Mike Scifres (SIGH-furs) is among the top punters in the NFL today. He’s earned a reputation for pinpoint accuracy and high punts that are rarely returned by the opposition. Mike is coming off yet another banner season, one in which he was named a first-alternate to the AFC Pro Bowl squad for the second-consecutive season.
Mike Scifres (SIGH-fres) is among the top punters in the NFL today. His high punts with pinpoint accuracy are rarely returned by the opposition. Scifres possesses incredible leg strength and flexibility that he credits to both weightlifting and Pilates throughout the year.
It was almost a fluke that Scifres ended up with the Chargers. It happened to be on a recommendation from Kyle Smith, the son of Chargers General Manager A.J. Smith. Kyle, then a freshman punt returner at Youngstown State had returned punts against Scifres, who then played for Missouri Valley Conference foe, Western Illinois. Less than a year after fielding the call from Kyle and despite having a Pro Bowl punter on the roster in Darren Bennett, Smith drafted Scifres in the fifth round in 2003.
Drafting Scifres proved to be a savvy move for Smith. Scifres has been a first-alternate for the last three Pro Bowls and if it weren’t for Raiders punter Shane Lechler, Scifres would be a three-time Pro Bowler.
The franchise’s all-time leader in punting average (44.1), Scifres was again one of the best punters in the NFL in 2008. He set a team record and ranked third in the league in net punting average (40.9), and in seven games allowed zero or negative punt return yards. Scifres had only five touchbacks in 51 punts (9.8%) and 19 of his 51 landed inside the 20. Among kickers with 40-or-more punts, only two others allowed fewer than Scifres’ 146 return yards. Only five teams had more than 15 punt return yards against the Chargers all season.
Because San Diego’s offense was so good in 2008, Scifres was only called upon to punt 51 times. It was the fewest punts in a Chargers season since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978. Opponents only managed to return a total of 23 of Scifres’ punts, the fewest punt returns against the Chargers since 1968 and the fewest returns ever allowed in a 16-game season.
Scifres had a record-breaking night in the Chargers’ AFC Wild Card Playoff win over Indianapolis. He landed all six of his punts inside the 20, the highest number and percentage of punts landed inside the 20 in a playoff game in NFL history. The previous best was 5-of-5 by Green Bay’s Craig Hentrich in the 1998 NFC Championship Game. Scifres also averaged an NFL Playoff-record 51.7 net yards per punt (min. 5 punts) against the Colts, who managed just six punt return yards vs. the Chargers. As a result, the Colts were forced to start drives at the 10, 19, 3, 7, 9 and 1 yard lines following punts. His last may have been his best, one which rolled out of bounds at the one-yard line, setting the stage for the Chargers’ late fourth-quarter comeback.
With Scifres on the roster, it’s no fluke that the Chargers have made deep playoff runs the last two seasons. 2007 was another banner season as Scifres regularly pinned opponents deep in their own territory, landing 36 of his punts inside the 20, second-most in the NFL. He had only 29 punts returned in ’07, fourth-fewest among the league’s Top 25 punters and six times, opponents had either zero or negative punt return yards against the Chargers.
That success carried into the postseason where Scifres had a monster playoff game against Indianapolis in the Divisional Round. It saw him set a new team postseason record by averaging 59.0 yards per punt, shattering the previous mark of 54.5 yards set by Bennett against the Colts in a 1995 AFC Wild Card Playoff game. Scifres saved his best for last there too, hitting a postseason team-record 66-yarder with the Bolts backed up at their own 14-yard line and only 1:42 left in the fourth quarter. Kicking from his own goal line, Scifres punt was fielded back at the Colts’ 20. It fired up the entire sideline and the defense promptly went out and ended the Colts’ season on downs four plays later, sending the Chargers to the AFC Championship Game.
Scifres went to high school in Destrehan, Louisiana, not far from New Orleans. One of his teammates in high school was Baltimore Ravens’ safety Ed Reed. Funny enough, but Reed was the team’s punter at the time and because of that Scifres was relegated to kickoffs, field goals and extra points. Few would’ve guessed that Scifres would turn out to be such a special player. Scifres and Reed have remained friends and exchange text messages several times throughout the season.
Scifres is one of the team’s best golfers. He golfs frequently in San Diego with his special teams mates, David Binn and Nate Kaeding. He also likes to play golf in exotic locales like Hawaii and Mexico. Scifres currently plays to a 15 handicap.
TRANSACTION HISTORY: Fifth-round pick (149), April 27, 2003…signed, July 19, 2003…signed four-year contract extension through 2011, Nov. 3, 2005.
2008: Pro Bowl first-alternate…USA Today All-Joe…55.5 ypp with season-long 65-yarder Wk 4 at Oakland…55.8 ypp Wk 5 at Miami…3-of-6 I-20 and net avg. of 50.5, career-high for games with more than one att.…allowed only -1 return yard vs. KC Nov. 9, posting higher net (44.3) than gross average (44.0)…SI.com Special Teams POW after landing team postseason and NFL Playoff record six I-20 in Jan. 5 AFC Wild Card Playoff game vs. Indianapolis…52.7-yard average was third-highest in game in team playoff history and 51.7-net avg. was NFL postseason record (min. 5 att.)…set stage for late 4Q comeback by having final punt (52 yards) roll OB at one…first-ever NFL punt returned for TD in Jan. 11 AFC Divisional Playoff game at Pittsburgh.
2007: USA Today All-Joe...Pro Bowl first-alternate…first punt of career blocked by Tony Scheffler in Denver Oct. 7…AFC Special Teams POW after 50.2 net avg. vs. Houston Oct. 28…5-of-5 I-20 vs. Texans to run streak of consecutive punts I-20 to nine…season-long 70-yard punt vs. Baltimore Nov. 25…two huge punts late in Tennessee game Dec. 9…early 4Q, had 39-yarder downed at one, leading to three-and-out and TD on ensuing offensive possession…in OT, had 51-yarder downed at two…it too was followed by three-and-out before GW TD drive…Denver Dec. 24 on MNF, also handled KOs for Nate Kaeding, who injured left non-kicking leg during game’s opening KO…at Indy in Jan. 13 Divisional Playoffs, set new team postseason record by averaging 59.0 ypp…shattered previous mark of 54.5 yards by Darren Bennett vs. Colts in ’95 AFC Wild Card Playoffs…saved best for last, hitting postseason team-record 66-yarder from own 14-yard line with only 1:42 left in 4Q…no PR yards allowed in AFC Championship Game at NE.
2006: Pro Bowl first-alternate…53.8-yard avg., including season-long 71-yarder, Oct. 1 at Baltimore…last punt, in 4Q Dec. 3 at Buffalo, went for TB…only second TB of season (Oct. 1 at Baltimore), ending streak of 38 consecutive punts without one…career-high 10 punts in rainy Dec. 24 game at Seattle…tied team playoff record with seven punts in AFC Divisional Playoff game vs. NE...five I-20 tied John Kidd’s then team playoff record.
2005: Pro Bowl second-alternate… season-high 57.5 ypp vs. NY Jets Nov. 6…bailed out team with season-long 71-yarder in ESPN SNF game vs. Oakland Dec. 4.
2004: Pro Bowl first-alternate… first-team All-Pro by SI and SI.com…Chargers Special Teams POY…only one PR for one yard and two FC by All-Pro return man Dante Hall Nov. 28 at KC… Dec. 5 vs. Denver, had first TB since Sept. 26 at Denver, ending 36 consecutive punts without…23 of 36 during stretch landed I-20…Chargers Alumni POW after TB game Dec. 12…Jan. 2 vs. KC, had pass INT by Chiefs as holder on botched FG att.
2003: Handled KOs Wks 4, 7, 12-14 and 16.
COLLEGE: I-AA All-America as sophomore and senior …three-time first-team all-conference…only 1-AA punter named finalist for ’02 Ray Guy Award…second in nation with 48.0 avg. as senior…National POW four times by Football Gazette and Special Teams POW for Gateway Conference twice as senior…conference POW three times and Sports Network POW three times as soph…I-AA Special Teams POW after school and conference-record 89-yard punt vs. SW Missouri in ’00…school-record 56-yard FG vs. Northern Iowa as time expired in 44-41 win for ’00 conference title...was first-career FGA…All-Newcomer as redshirt frosh in ’99…played at Western Illinois from 1998-02…communications and broadcasting degree.
PERSONAL: Born in Metairie, Louisiana…all-district selection at Destrehan (La.) HS…lettered in football, soccer and baseball.