Kirby Van Der Kamp was more than just a high-quality punter during his four seasons at Iowa State. The West Des Moines product was literally flawless when it came to executing Paul Rhoads’ notorious trickery.
Van Der Kamp, who will participate in the prestigious Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., on Jan. 25, was 7-for-7 on fourth-down fake-punt situations during his career in Ames.
While seven fake punts in four years might not seem like much, when you combine Van Der Kamp’s success with the way that Rhoads used Mike Brandtner in the first year of his coaching tenure at Iowa State, it is clear that Iowa State wants its punter to more than just a punter. Iowa State’s punter needs to be an athlete and a threat to run and throw the football.
Obviously, Van Der Kamp’s leg, brain and athleticism need to be replaced for the 2014 season and that is exactly what Whitefish Bay, Wis., prospect Colin Downing plans on doing.
Van Der Kamp is a former Valley High School wide receiver. Downing too is much more than your stereotypical “stiff” punter. Downing, who recently turned down a scholarship offer from Penn State, has a passion for another physical sport: hockey.
“Sometimes good kickers are just little neat church mice, and that’s not this kid,” said former Iowa State kicker Jamie Kohl, who is the founder of Kohl’s Kicking, Punting and Snapping Camps. “I think that overall, he is a very good and coordinated athlete.”
Kohl ranks specialists nationally for ESPN and selects them to participate in the annual Under Armour All-American Game. Kohl rates Downing the ninth-best punter in the Class of 2014.
“He carries himself with a lot of confidence,” Kohl said. “And he has a little bit of a gamer mentality, too, that makes him stand out.”
Downing, a 5-foot-11, 170-pound punter/kicker combo, began playing hockey at age 4. As a child, he dreamt of playing hockey at the college level but then shifted sports when he realized his gift of punting a football.
Downing thinks that his experience on the ice has helped him on the gridiron.
“I think the leg strength I’ve gotten from hockey is the reason I am so good at punting,” Downing said. “For some reason, I have really strong legs. I am able to throw my weight around a lot. I am kind of an enforcer out on the ice.”
A punter who is an “enforcer” in the hockey rink. Chalk that up as something you don’t see every day.
“From a technical standpoint, this kid is ahead of where Kirby was coming in,” Kohl said. “The ball jumps off of his foot very, very well.”
In a joint venture with the Des Moines Register and CycloneFanatic.com, I will provide weekly recruiting updates between now and signing day on Feb. 5