Van Winkle Set For UW
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Van Winkle Set For UW

It's been a record-setting season for Cameron Van Winkle. Not only did he set the state record for field goals in a career at the high school level, but the Mount Si Wildcats achieved something unparalleled in the history of the school.

"The season went really well," Van Winkle told Dawgman.com this week. "This is the best team Mt. Si has ever had in the whole existence of Mt. Si. My season - I felt like I did really good and helped the team out a lot, especially on kickoffs always getting basically every kick a touchback."

Van Winkle wasn't sure if he finished his Wildcat career with 39 or 40 field goals, but he knows it's enough to have the state record…for now. His long kick was just short of 50 yards, a goal that will be left unattained. "I know. It's frustrating," he said.

But with a loss to Bellevue - the only team Mount Si lost to all year long - Cameron plans on taking a week-and-a-half off now to rest his leg. Van Winkle been kicking nearly non-stop since the summer - including kicking in all three phases (kickoffs, punts and field goals) and even though he feels good now he knows rest will do his legs some good. "If you hit the ball a long way, your groin might go out," he said. "If you hit the ground every once in a while your knee might hurt. When you're doing kickoffs you're exploding up and through the ball and landing all your weight on your kicking foot…so it can all put a toll on your leg."

Van Winkle admits that the position of kicker can be as much mental as physical at times, but don't get it twisted - kicking can take it out of you. "People think that kicking is very easy, but especially when I go to camps - if you do six or so kickoffs in a row and you're using your whole body to explode right through the ball - you'll break a sweat," he said.

As Mount Si was headed to the Tacoma Dome Saturday, Washington kicker Travis Coons missed a game-winning kick in the Apple Cup. "I watched some of the highlights," Van Winkle said of the game. "It looks like (Coons) just mis-struck it. That happens. Most kickers, you have this sense as soon as you hit the ball whether you know if it's good or not. You just have to really have confidence in yourself.

"A lot of people think it's all on the kicker. For example, the Boise State game a couple of years ago where a big kick missed my Dad and I rewound the tape and saw that the laces were facing in toward the kicker. That makes a big difference because the compaction of the football - it goes out a different way. And then there's the hold placement of the football…have you ever seen when the kicker puts his foot down as a mark where he wants the holder to put the ball? If the holder misses the spot by a few inches or so, a couple inches - it could make a big difference."

Van Winkle has worked with kicking gurus like Chris Sailer in past off-seasons; what will he do now once he's ready to kick again? "Every sunny day that's decent and warm, I'll go out and kick a little bit just to keep up with the motion," he said. "I'll also do a lot of lifting. I'm also taking online classes right now to try and graduate early so I start at the U-Dub for spring ball."

Cameron added that he will still sign a letter of intent in February "I would start school there in spring quarter, around April 1st."

He started taking online classes in the beginning of October. "(UW coaching staff) encouraged it," Van Winkle said. "We never really knew much about it, but once we heard about it we wanted to of course."

Does Van Winkle, who verbally committed to Washington back in June, have an official visit date set up? "I don't have an official visit set right now, but I know I will take one," he said. "I visited with Joel Thomas today, the running backs coach. He stopped by to talk to my head coach."

How about an in-home visit? "We haven't really set out any date, but I'll sit down and have dinner with coach Sark," Van Winkle added. "We talked about it. It's a great honor to have someone that we've seen on TV, a head coach for a major D1 school."

He will not take any other visits. "I haven't really been interested in any other schools. U-Dub has really been my number-one," said Van Winkle.

Cameron is open to trying all three kicking spots. "It really depends on how I perform once I get there," he said, noting that he'll probably just compete for kickoffs and placekicking to start. "I could maybe be a backup punter," he added.

As soon as he's ready, he's going to work on longer kickoffs. "I'm only five yards further back, but all my kickoffs have been to the back of the end zone," Van Winkle said. "So it would be mid-end zone to the back of the end zone now. Just seeing how far I can actually kick it from the 35…usually now when I go out to kick I just stick to the basics and the form…I don't really go for distance, especially when I'm just kicking by myself."