The media throng said it all. Iowa State suits up a star on its roster.
Print, online and television reporters all wanted an interview and photo. No, it’s not the usual suspects. This player plays a much more unheralded position – punter.
That’s right. Kirby Van Der Kamp shines bright because he can do what so few at his position can – impact a football game.
“Kirby, without a doubt, is a weapon for our football team,” Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads said. “I will continue to state he is the best punter in college football.”
The preseason accolades agree with Rhoads. Phil Steele and Athon’s listed Van Der Kamp as a preseason all-American.
Don’t think Van Der Kamp is sitting on his laurels after averaging 42.8 yards per punt in his career.
“I know I have to perform,” he said at Iowa State’s annual media day. “Those things don’t mean anything if I don’t have a good season. It’s more about the postseason awards instead of the preseason awards.”
Striving to improve
After three stellar seasons in Cardinal and Gold, Van Der Kamp continued to tweak his fundamentals this summer. He, along with kickers Edwin Arceo and Cole Netten, attended a Kohl’s Professional Kicking and Punting Camp in Wisconsin.
The top punters and kickers in the country competed at the camp. Van Der Kamp more than held his own.
“Van Der Kamp is an athletic lefty punter who is a weapon at pinning teams inside the 20,” said Jamie Kohl.
Kohl would know. The former Iowa State kicker runs Kohl’s Kicking and coaches elite NFL, college and high school kickers and punters across the country during camps throughout the summer.
Under the guidance of the Iowa State coaches and Kohl, Van Der Kamp improved his hang times to around 4.5 seconds on most of his punts.
Believe it or not, Van Der Kamp thinks he’s also improved his “pooch” punts. Last year, the West Des Moines native pinned opponents inside the 20-yard line 29 times and only had two touchbacks.
“On my pooches, I aim for the front pylon and try to get it as close to that as I can,” Van Der Kamp said. “If I leave it a little short, it can bounce out of bounds at the 5-yard line.”
Doing the little things right is what makes Van Der Kamp so effective. The senior follows the same routine before every punt.
“I’m always checking the wind, checking the field, and thinking about what kind of punt I’m going to do,” Van Der Kamp said.
If the Cyclones are beyond the 50, it’s usually bombs away with a spiral punt. On the other side of the 50, he will turn to a rugby style kick that has a tendency to bounce up and allow his teammates to down the ball.
The cerebral approach should add up to another excellent season.
“He is someone who should be looked at by NFL scouts this fall,” Kohl said. “He should be a weapon this season for the Cyclones and lengthen the field for their opponents.”
There’s that word again – weapon. How many times is that used to describe a punter?
When your last name is Van Der Kamp it happens quite often.