Zalud leads the way at SoCal event

The Kohl's Showcase Camp made a stop at Servite High School in Anaheim, Calif., on Sunday afternoon and was greeted with some of the finest weather and kickers that Southern California has to offer. According to Jamie Kohl, organizer of the Kohl's Showcase Camp, at least the top five performers at Sunday's camp will be high-major players who have already drawn interest from several schools across the country. While a relatively calm Sunday turned a bit breezy during the afternoon competition session, the wind only upped the tension as the top players looked to step forward.

Bobby Zalud (Carlsbad, Calif./La Costa Canyon) was chosen by Kohl as the overall camp MVP. At just 5-foot-6, Zalud is able to generate big-time punch from a small frame by virtue of a great swing. Kohl called him the best competitor at the camp, and Zalud certainly looks like someone who will succeed at the next level despite his stature. Zalud finished in a tie for first during the kickoff competition, with a 77-yard kick that had a 4-second hangtime. He also drilled a 50-yard field goal into a 15-mile-per-hour headwind (a kick that Kohl called the best kick of the camp) and hit four punts over 50 yards during the morning session (including one that travelled 58 yards). Zalud said he feels strongest on field goals and kickoff. It's easy to envision him making an impact in both phases at some point in his college career. At this point, Zalud said he's hearing from Oregon and Colorado, and recently returned from the Arizona State spring game, where he spoke with head coach Dennis Erickson. Next, he'll travel to the University of Southern California to attend a kicking camp there on June 5. He's not sure where he wants to go to school, but he said that USC would definitely be the choice if an offer came. He said his dad is pushing him to take a look at schools around the country, but Zalud is a big fan of the Southern California weather.

Alejandro Maldonado (Colton, Calif.) excelled during the field goal session. Maldonado started off strong in the morning, but said he tightened up a bit during the lunch break, which caused him to miss several early kicks in the afternoon's competition. But he eventually found his rhythm and finished strong, ultimately receiving recognition from Kohl as the Most Outstanding Field Goal Kicker. In fact, Kohl added that Maldonado was the most college-ready kicker at the camp. Maldonado sealed his award by connecting on a 55-yard field goal without a tee that would have been good from 65 yards. Currently, Maldonado said he is hearing from USC, Colorado, Washington, Arizona State and Nevada -- with the Sun Devils and Wolfpack leading the charge. He added that he'd like to stay closer to home so that his parents can see him play.

Connor Loftus (Orange, Calif./Servite), a 2011 prospect, took advantage of kicking on the home turf in proving that he's one of the better sophomore kickers in the state. Loftus hasn't had a chance to kick for the Friars to this point, in large part because another Loftus (his brother Mike) was in his way. Now, with Mike off to SMU, Connor will be given a shot to take control of all three kicking duties at Servite. Loftus is used to kicking off a tee -- with the aid of a tee he connected on a 50-yard field goal with ease during competition. He then ditched the tee and connected easily from 45 yards and missed wide right from 48. At the conclusion of the camp, Kohl called Loftus the top overall prospect in attendance. The fact that Loftus has been competing against older kickers his entire life is evident. With a 4.8 GPA, Loftus won't be limited in his college options. He said he's hearing from several Ivy League schools, as well as Stanford, California and UCLA. He listed his top three schools as Stanford, Notre Dame and Harvard.

Another 2011 prospect, Jake Van Ginkel School (Upland, Calif.) proved to be another solid addition to Sunday's competition. Van Ginkel comes from a kicking family and was first heard from via Internet videos as an eighth grader kicking 60-yard field goals. He hit 58- and 57-yard field goals on Sunday, and though he struggled a bit with his punts and kickoffs, he chalked that up to a lack of experience and technique. He's in the middle of changing his kickoff approach from seven to nine steps, which should eventually help him with the distance and hang-time he's looking for. He's also one of the few younger kids who doesn't use a tee. At this point, Van Ginkel is hearing from San Diego State and UCLA, but his dream is to end up a USC Trojan.

Mason Krysinski (Shelby Township, Mich./Eisenhower) flew out to Southern California for the camp and turned in a good day's work. He finished the kickoff competition in a tie with Zalud after bombing a 77-yard kick with a 4-second hangtime. Krysinski's leg strength is obvious, as is his enthusiasm for kickoffs and anything that allows him to line up and let it fly, but he'll need to improve his consistency on field goals. Like Loftus, Krysinski carries a fantastic GPA and is hearing from several elite academic institutions, such as Harvard, Penn and Vanderbilt. He's also heard from Wisconsin and several Michigan schools.

David Sandler (Calabasas, Calif.) performed well in all three aspects. He won his group's first two field-goal competitions, then finished second in overall punting and finally went to the semifinals during the kickoff competition. He was named the camp's most outstanding punter by Kohl, thanks to punts with hang times of 4.6 and 4.7 seconds. Like almost all high school kickers, Sandler will need to improve his overall fundamentals, but he should be able to make a name for himself as a fine collegiate punter. In addition to kicking and punting for his high school team, Sandler also spent time at quarterback and wide receiver, showcasing his athletic ability. He's received written communication from Eastern Michigan, but, like most every Southern California kicker, he's waiting on an offer from USC, which is currently his favorite school.

Chase Chandler (Santa Barbara, Calif.) was hit-or-miss for parts of Sunday, but his high points were as solid as anyone. He began the afternoon's field goal session by going toe-to-toe with Loftus from 45 and 50 yards before coming up just short from 48-yards out when the wind picked up. He's a lanky kicker who also plays wide receiver for his high school team, which helps explain his long strides and occasional miss-hits. But with some more refinement in his technique, Chandler showed signs of developing into a solid kicker. He kicked all last season with a groin injury he suffered in the season's second game, yet still finished with 53 points, more than any other junior in the Channel League.

Several long-snappers also had good days on Sunday, including Sean McNally (Bakersfield Junior College), Zack Martin (Los Osos, Calif.) and Mason Felling (Anaheim, Calif/Servite).

McNally was the best of the bunch, showcasing consistent snaps with good zip on the ball. He said he is currently hearing from Mississippi and Louisville, but he would like to stay on the West Coast and play in the Pac-10 if at all possible.

Eric McKinney covers football recruiting for ESPN affiliate WeAreSC.com.