The last couple of weeks allowed Kohl's to see some of the best kickers, punters and snappers in the Southern and Eastern regions of the United States.
The Kohl's Southern Showcase featured 100 athletes from 12 states looking to make a name for themselves this past weekend. The tough weather conditions hurt the hang times and distances, but helped the mentally-tough campers separate themselves from the rest of the pack.
Devin Southerland, a 2011 kicker/punter from Easley High School in South Carolina, won the field goal competition with a 55-yard blast off the ground and also made 9 of 10 charted field goals. Southerland also made the final round of the punting competition to secure his place as the camp's most outstanding performer. He showed the ability to perform under pressure, but he does need to improve his kickoffs at the next level. Southerland is currently being looked at by Clemson and is a guy who can step up and compete when it counts.
The most outstanding punter award was shared by three players who all showed big-time potential as college punters. Spencer Roth, a 2011 punter from Knoxville Catholic High School in Tennessee, won the punting competition at camp and showed a good ability to directional punt in the drill work portion of camp. Roth has an official visit to Wake Forest coming up and he showed why the Demon Deacons are interested in him as a punter. The 6-foot-5, 220-pounder has the frame and talent to contribute early in his college career. Nathan Renfro, a 2011 punter from Brentwood Academy in Knoxville, Tenn., won the charting session and showed very well in the competition. The ball comes off his foot very consistently and smoothly. His motion is repeatable for a high school athlete. The third punter might be the most recruited of the three because he is a year younger. Colin Barber, a 2012 punter from Carterville High School in Georgia, might have the best leg strength in his class. He does need to work on swinging straighter up and through the ball, but his "A" ball during the charting session was the best at camp. He also finished second in the competition to Roth.
Austin Hardin, a 2012 kicker from Marist High School in Georgia, wowed everyone at camp. He made a 58-yard field goal that would have been good from 63 yards during the drill work portion of camp. Hardin also kicked off very well on the cold damp day. He made a 59-yard field goal to win a game for Marist high school this past season and is currently being recruited by Georgia and some other SEC schools. He is a serious candidate to play in the Under Armour All-America Game next year. Hardin won the camp award for the most outstanding kicker.
Brandon Carpenter, a 2011 snapper from Lincolnton High School in North Carolina, was the camp's most outstanding snapper. He won the competition by showing very well in the charting session and should be able to compete early in his college career.
Others who stood out at Southern Showcase
Nick St. Germain, a 2012 kicker from McEachern High School in Georgia, showed he is one of the top field goal kickers in the 2012 class. His smooth approach and overall leg speed make him a contender for SEC scholarships in the year to come. The football comes off his foot with the speed and the clean rotation that is year's ahead of his current age.
Josh Applebee, a 2012 punter/kicker from Harvest, Ala., looks like a college-level tight end, but his punts and kickoffs should make him a very highly recruited athlete in next year's recruiting class. His overall power is very impressive.
George Bullock, a 2012 kicker from Knoxville, Tenn., showed very well during the drill work, competition and charting phases of camp. He may have had the best height on his field goals at camp. He will be a contender for many of the major scholarships that will be offered next year. His talent is good enough to play at a high-level college.
Cody Sandler, a 2012 kicker from Covington, Ga., showed tremendous leg strength at camp. His kickoffs were very impressive, but he does need to improve his rhythm and technique on field goals to maximize his kicking potential.
Leo Manzo, a 2012 kicker from local Flowery Branch High School in Ga., showed he belonged with many of the camp's best prospects. His charts and drill work were impressive.
Ben Calder, a 2011 kicker from Bellaire, Texas, showed he can kick off at a high level in college when he hits his "A" ball. His leg is very strong and does need to improve his consistency at the next level.
Brandon Hager, a 2011 kicker/punter from Bob Jones High School in Ala., showed college-level talent on his field goals off the ground in both the drill work session and the charting session. The ball came off his foot clean and he was smooth and consistent enough that we feel he could compete early in his college career.
The Eastern Showcase camp had 102 athletes competing to see who could rise up and capture the moment. This Kohl's kicking, punting, and snapping event featured some specialists who should be household names in the years to come. The overall level of talent at camp was solid with athletes traveling from as far Texas to show they have college potential.
The camp's most outstanding performer was 2012 kicker/punter Ross Martin (Solon, Ohio/ Walsh Jesuit). He made 9 of 10 field goals during the charting session and finished second in kickoff competition at camp. Martin was kicking his field goals off the ground at camp and showed the poise and talent to be a contender for the Under Armour All-America Game next year. His punting is also improving and he should be a very good high school punter next season. He should be an early scholarship offer kicker in the 2012 class.
The camp's most impressive single kicking performance was done by 2012 kicker Ben Solis (Holland, Pa./Council Rock South). He won the field goal competition by making a 57-yard field goal that would have been good from 62 yards away. Solis used a one-inch tee on his field goals and caught fire as the competition wore on. His smooth left-footed stroke had the ball jumping off his foot and traveling farther than most current college kickers.
The camp's most outstanding punter, Drew Kaser, attends the same school as Martin. He has already received FBS offers from multiple schools and showed why at camp. He hit multiple punts with over five seconds of hang time and showed very well kicking. He made eight field goals and kicked off extremely well. He is a versatile athlete that should receive more college attention in the weeks to come.
This camp also featured many good snappers, especially 2011 snappers Conor Jackson (McMurray, Pa./ Peters Township) and Sean Tobin (Holmdel Township, N.J./ St. John Vianney), who won the snapping competition at camp. Tom Hennessy, a 2012 snapper from Don Bosco Preparatory High School in New Jersey, also showed he belonged with the older snappers at camp and will be someone to watch in the years to come. All three snappers showed the speed and accuracy to snap in college.
Others who stood out at Eastern Showcase
Grant Venham, a 2011 punter from Warren Local High School in Ohio, showed the natural ability of a FBS scholarship punter at camp. His frame and natural athleticism should be very enticing to college coaches. The ball jumped off his foot and his hands have improved dramatically over the last 12 months. He does need to clean up his three-step approach, but his natural tools are scholarship worthy.
Aaron Berthet, a 2011 punter/kicker from Henry Ford II High School in Michigan, won the kickoff completion with a blast that went 69 yards and had over four seconds of hang time. Berthet is a powerful kickoff specialist who also shows good flashes as punter. His kickoffs where special at camp and he can help a college program looking for a good kickoff guy who can also develop into a good punter. His natural leg speed is at the FBS level.
Jon Martin, a 2012 kicker/punter from Bethlehem Central High School in New York, showed he has some special skills by hitting multiple field goals between 50-55 yards away. He has an athletic frame and showed great concentration in the field goal competition by finishing second to Solis. He is an athlete that should be even better in the summer of 2011.
Evan Fisher, a 2012 kicker from Holt, Mich., came into camp with a big high school résumé and left it earning the respect of everyone that saw him kick. His natural rhythm and smooth, powerful stoke is very impressive. The ball comes off his foot clean and he showed everyone why he's done as well as he has for his high school team.
Austin O'Brien from Shawnee High School in New Jersey is a strongly-built kicker/punter who at times strikes the ball like a big-time college level kicker. If he can hit a cleaner ball more often he can compete early at the college level. He showed great flashes at camp for a 2011 kicker/punter and during the drill work phase of camp.
Christian Mossellem, a 2011 punter/kicker from Penn Trafford High School in Penn., won the punting competition at camp with a 43-yard blast that had 4.5 seconds of hang time. He showed the ability to step up and perform with everyone watching.
Austin Grebe, a 2012 kicker/punter from Stafford, Va., showed improvement again in both rhythm and leg speed at camp over his previous Kohl's camps. He showed range on field goals out to 53 yards off the ground. His punts were solid all day as well.
Conor Young, a 2012 kicker from Westmorris Central High School in New Jersey, also showed very well at camp and has gotten stronger since his last Kohl's camp. He was easily able to hit a 53-yard field goal at camp.
Jamie Kohl is the director of Kohl's Kicking, Punting and Snapping Camps.