A boy dreaming of one day becoming a big-time college football player is very common. It is rare though to find a young man who has vast aspirations of specifically becoming a punter.
Colin Downing represents this atypical situation.
Downing, who Kohl’s Kicking Camp ranks as the nation’s ninth-best punter in college football’s class of 2014, committed to Iowa State last Friday after officially visiting the school on Sept. 14.
It all started when an elementary teacher introduced Downing kicking and punting during recess during his youth.
“I’m pretty sure that in third grade I could make an extra point,” Downing said. “That’s where it began.”
Downing’s hometown, Whitefish Bay, Wisc., has a strong background when it comes to punters and kickers. Will Hagerup, a senior, is currently Michigan’s punter. Hagerup’s older brother, Chris, punted for Indiana from 2008-2011.
“They were before me and the whole kicking/punting thing is a big tradition at our high school,” Downing said.
Downing began to seriously work on his craft in fifth grade before teaming up with former Iowa State kicker and the founder of Kohl’s Kicking/Punting/Snapping Camps, Jamie Kohl. Former Iowa State kicker Bret Culbertson also works for the Kohl’s Kicking Camp, a group that ranks specialists nationally for ESPN and selects athletes to play in the Under Armour All-American Game.
Downing had an additional scholarship offer from Toledo.
Replacing Van Der Kamp
Paul Rhoads laid the pitch on thick during Downing’s recent official visit to Iowa State. It is a program that has a history of great punting, with none better than current senior Kirby Van Der Kamp.
“It adds a little bit of nervousness to the whole situation just because I want to go in there and be what they did but in the same respect, I hope I can just carry on the tradition and become that myself,” Downing said. “Jamie (Kohl) lives in Ames and then there’s Bret (Culbertson). That speaks for itself.”
As of now, it looks like Downing will be the only scholarship punter on Iowa State’s roster for the 2014 season but even so, it isn’t a slam dunk that he will be the starter. West Des Moines Valley product Holden Kramer walked onto the program this season.
“It is going to be a challenge and obviously there will be competition,” Downing said. “But having a scholarship and being given a scholarship by Coach Rhoads and everything is a big deal and I hope that I can win the job so to speak. It will be hard obviously but I plan to work really hard.”
Downing can kick too
Downing is more than just a punter. He’s also and established kickoff man, which could prove to be useful as early as next season for Iowa State.
“I was recruited as a punter alone but at the national camp this year, I finished top 10-15 in kickoffs,” Downing said. “It’s a possibility.”
So far during the 2013 season, senior Edwin Arceo has handled kickoff duties for the Cyclones while redshirt freshman Cole Netten has been the primary field goal/PAT guy.
“I have no clue," Downing said. "I am going to come in and show my skills."
Kohl’s Kicking Camp ranks Downing as the 38th best kicker in the class of 2014.
Why Iowa State?
“It’s just something about Iowa State. I’ve been out there twice and I’ve seen everything. I’ve seen the school. I really like the way that everything is run.”
On Paul Rhoads…
“He seems like a great guy. He seems to be like a father to his players, which really seems cool to me. I’m excited about that aspect of it.”