In the land of cheese and brats, the pigskin was flying Sunday as another Kohl's kicking showcase was held this time in Wisconsin. This showcase took place in the family vacation area known as the Dells. Close to 40 college kicking hopefuls participated. Despite the backdrop of indoor water parks and fun, the competition was pretty stiff. The group included some big names in the kicking community as well as some pleasant surprises. With the exception of the punting portion, the camp was held indoors. Here are some highlights from the afternoon.
The top kicker from the camp was Scott Secor (New Lenox, Ill. / Lincoln-Way) a small, but fiercely competitive individual. Secor measures in unofficially at 5-foot-9 and 155 pounds and certainly lacks the natural size possessed by some of the other top kicking prospects. That being said, his small frame carries a big leg. In warmups and throughout the camp, he displayed a strong leg and a quick and powerful kicking motion. The ball seemed to explode off his foot and got up in the air in a hurry. He did not chart well with his placekicking in the morning session, hitting on only 6-of-10 kicks, but he bounced back in a big way in the afternoon competitions. The Illinois native won all four place-kicking battles including three field goal competitions and one kickoff. In two separate single elimination field-goal battles, he nailed a 56-yarder in each to win. The second 56-yard kick sailed through the uprights with ease and would have been good from at least another five yards. Secor also turned in a pretty gritty performance. Having problems with his hip flexor, he was noticeably irritated in the morning session, but he rested up over lunch and turned in an impressive afternoon session to edge out some other fine candidates. Secor currently holds no offers, but said he is receiving interest from programs like Purdue, Ohio State, Northern Illinois, and Wisconsin.
A wanted man
The big name heading into the day was Wisconsin native Will Hagerup (Whitefish Bay, Wisc.), a good looking punting prospect. Scholarship offers usually come in much slower for kicking prospects and at this point there are very few kickers holding offers. Hagerup, though, is one exception. He currently holds 10 offers from programs like Wisconsin, Illinois, Alabama, Tennessee, Purdue, Indiana, as well defending national champions Florida. He only took part in the punting portion of the camp and is naturally headed for that role in college. He possesses good natural size with good height and a frame to add bulk. With that size, he carries a big leg and is able to punt for distance and hang time. During the charting and punting competition, he was able to get a hold of a few kicks and his hang time was often impressive as the ball just hung up high in the air. During his morning charting session, his average hang time was well over four seconds. He does need to work on getting the ball off a little quicker; he was at times at the slow end of the catch-to-kick meter and, to his own admission, needs to keep improving on his consistency. Despite being the favorite and the most physically gifted punter in attendance, he finished second in the punting competition. While there are some areas Hagerup still needs to work on, it is pretty easy to see why he has garnered early interest from college programs with his combination of size, raw tools and kicking ability.
Hagerup is headed towards being the second BCS punter in his family; his older brother Chris is currently the punter at Indiana. Like his brother, Will started out in soccer and did not start in football until his sophomore year. Despite the somewhat late start, he has quickly risen to be among the best punters in the nation and having his brother travel the same path ahead of him has been an asset. With a similar background and build, Chris has been able to help Will identify and fix mistakes as well as offer advice. Will has set no time table for an announcement and said he is not getting pressure from his brother to pick the Hoosiers. He has though offered some sound advice telling his younger brother "Go where you think you can be the most successful" also adding "go where the coaches take punting seriously." Hagerup exudes a real passion for his skill and feels his work ethic is a real strength. With his natural tools and desire to get better, he could be a fine punter for one of those programs.
The punting group was strong led by Hagerup, but there were some other talented prospects at the position. One was the winner of the competition Jonathan Ginsburgh (Alexandria, La. / Holy Savior Menard Central) who traveled quite a distance to take part. Timing with soccer and school was simply the reason why he chose to attend this camp, and despite a bit of a slow start, he performed well. He took part in all three kicking phases, but his best fit in college is as a punter. He was a bit inconsistent at times, but Ginsburgh also showed the ability to combine distance with hang time. Ginsburgh works hard at his craft and cites his detailed attention to his technique as a strength. That attention to detail may have paid off. During the morning charting session, he was having some trouble so he sought out the camp photographer and asked to look at some of the frame-by-frame pictures that were taken of him. In doing that, he saw he was off in his drop bringing the ball up too high so he adjusted and that helped aid him in his win in the competition later in the day. He currently has no offers but said programs like LSU, Tulane, Georgia Tech, and TCU among others are showing interest.
Another talented punter in attendance was Kirby Van Der Kamp (West Des Moines, Iowa / Valley) who was arguably the most impressive punter in the morning charting session. He is a lefty punter with a big leg and the ability to kick for great distance, but Van Der Kamp needs to be more consistent. Despite great ability, he was knocked out in the first round of the punting competition. In addition, during the warmups, he nailed a punt that sailed through the sky and elicited "ooh's" from the crowd, but then proceeded to shank his next two punts. This was the first competition camp for Van Der Kamp who definitely has ability, but he needs to keep working. Interest thus far is limited, but things could heat up for him some before it is all said and done.
Fitting right in
Sunday's showcase was not an all boy's club; Kassy McCarthy (Waunakee, Wisc.) crashed the party. The pony-tailed rising senior mixed in with the group of boy's and quickly proved she belonged for those who may have doubted. From the start she displayed solid leg strength and good accuracy and continued to perform well all day, ranking amongst the top half of kickers in attendance. In field goal charting she hit in 7-of-10 kicks. Like many kickers she has a background in soccer and it was an extracurricular event at a soccer tournament in Minnesota that helped lead her to football. She found herself outkicking many of the boys in displays of leg strength and soon after her soccer coach recommended she go out for football. She has been a kicker on her varsity team since her sophomore year and netted a long of 32 in a game. Kassy who caries herself with self confidence and toughness dove right in though and quickly garnered support from teammates and coaches. The bottom line is she can kick well and her ability to get the job done allowed her to be just another player at Waunakee.
McCarthy, who is working on transitioning to kicking off the ground has worked, with the Kohls for three years now and takes kicking seriously. She plans to continue to play in college. While interest is limited at this point and making it to the FBS level is doubtful, she seems poised for the challenge and shows the skills. Ripon College has expressed some interest thus far and imaginably so the family atmosphere and openness of a team is something she is looking for. McCarthy surprised us today and we wish her the best in quest to continue to kick in college.
• A pleasant surprise at the camp today was Kevin Robb (Rapid City, SD / St Thomas More) a virtual unknown. A soccer player, Robb kicked for the first time last year as a junior. Despite no training the strong legged kicker just winged and performed well hitting on 10-of-12 field goals with a long of 47. Sunday's event was his first kicking camp ever, but he made a statement that he is a sleeper among the 2010 kicking prospects.
• Kyle French (Menomonee Falls, Wis.) had a strong day all around taking part in all three phases. He punts well, but is best suited for placekicking in college and he had a big day in that phase. He was perfect on his field goal charting going 10-for-10 and really shined in kick-offs showing good leg strength. He came in second in the kick-off competition and was just edged out by Secor
• Nick Aussieker (Wildwood, Mo. / Lafayette) charted well going 10-for-10 with field goals. He has no offers, but said he is getting serious interest from Northern Illinois, Vanderbilt, Bowling Green, Arkansas, and Missouri and plans to attend several team camps this summer
• Justin Syrovatka (Sioux Fall, SD / Roosevelt) had his moments throughout the day and while he was inconsistent he showed flashes. He also took home the award for the ugliest shoes competing in bright yellow shoes which made him look like he was kicking with bananas on his feet.
Craig Haubert is the recruiting coordinator for Scouts Inc.