The Kohl's Midwest Showcase camp featured 130 athletes from over 15 states and the majority of the campers were from states in the Big Ten region. Most of the campers have had to kick, punt and snap into nets or at local gymnasiums because of the winter weather, but it did not stop many of the best campers from putting on strong performances that rival any we have seen around the nation.
The field goal competition was won by 2013 kicker Bryan Holmes from Holland Michigan. He smoked a 57-yard field goal that would have been good from 60 yards away in the camp finals. This is especially impressive considering his age. The ball jumped off his foot in drill work and continued throughout the rest of the day. He does need to improve on his follow through and finish but he will be a guy to watch in the future. He represents the state of Michigan very well and reminds us of Michigan State's Dan Conroy and Mike Sadler. Both current Michigan State guys got it done on this Kohl's stage and he seems to have that same ability to rise up and perform when people are watching.
Darin Howell, a 2011 kicker/punter from Mukwonago, Wis., won the punting competition. He beat Jose Diaz, a junior college camper from Grand Rapids Community College, in the finals. Both athletes hit consistent punts of 50 yards in length and had well over 4.2 seconds in hang time. These two guys had a battle going and when all eyes were on them, Howell edged Diaz on their last punt. Both of these athletes showed the consistency that will make them difference makers at the next level.
The kickoff competition was won by Austin Wolf, a 2014 athlete from Kettle Moraine High School in Wisconsin. This is an amazing accomplishment for a younger athlete. He won the competition and amazed the crowd when everyone was told his age. He certainly does not look or kick like a 2014 athlete. He has some special leg strength for a younger athlete. He does need to continue to improve to become elite, but has a great foundation to develop.
Ryan Nyhagen, a 2011 kicker from Stoughton, Wis., won the kickoff charting session and hit some of the most impressive field goals off the ground at camp. He will certainly move up in the rankings based on the way he struck the ball at camp. He looked like a college kicker with his smooth tempo and good rhythm. It was also nice to see 2011 punter Nick Holland step up and win the charting session in the morning. He hit some blasts that had Division I hang time and distance. His hands have improved greatly over the last six months and looks like he is college ready.
The Midwest Showcase also had a couple of the nation's best snappers. Reid Ferguson came all the way up to camp from Buford, Ga. He will be one of the most sought after snappers in the 2012 class. His 6-2 235-pound frame and excellent snapping skills will make him a college snapper in the years to come. His velocity is already at the Division I level. Jared Hartman won the snapping competition at camp. The 6-3, 225-pounder from Cretin-Derham Hall High School in Minnesota showed he is a legitimate college prospect at the snapping position as well. He is a 2011 snapper but will still draw interest as college recruiting heats up after the Holiday "dead period" is over.
Most outstanding punting performance: Darin Howell, most outstanding FG performance: Bryan Holmes, most outstanding kickoff performance: Austin Wolf, most outstanding overall kicking performance: Ryan Nyhagen, most outstanding snapping performance: Jared Hartman and Reid Ferguson.
Jamie Kohl is the director of Kohl's Kicking, Punting and Snapping Camps.