Panhandle Kicking Specialist Getting Noticed

Whitewater, WI---- Last March, Ryan Santoso, a junior kicker from Pace High School in Pensacola, FL showed up at Auburn, AL for a two-day training camp and left a strong initial impression on kicking guru Jamie Kohl.

"He was the biggest kicker I've seen and he had tremendous potential, he just wasn't very consistent," Kohl noted.

Two months later, Kohl saw Santoso kick again at a camp in Atlanta, and although the 6-5, 275-pounder averaged only 56 yards on his kickoffs, he did make 9-of-10 field goals and averaged an impressive 4.34 seconds hang time on his punts.

Fast forward two months to last week's Kohl's National Scholarship Invitational Camp, and Santoso's improvement was staggering. Not only did he finish first in the kickoff charting, averaging 74.4 yards and a 3.96 seconds hang time per kick, but he also finished 13th in punting, averaging 42 yards per punt with an average 4.18 hang time.

Those numbers, his rapid improvement, and the unlimited potential that has yet to be tapped was enough to earn Santoso a spot on the 2013 Under Armour All-American team.

"He has gotten better and better," Kohl said in explaining Santoso's selection. "Now he's the biggest good kicker I've ever seen. He has a chance to be really special."

Santoso hit 12-of-18 field goals and 45-of-46 extra points for his high school team last fall in his first full season of kicking after playing goalie for Pace's soccer team for several years.

Although he was ranked the No. 13 kicker in Kohl's Class of 2013 ratings before coming into last weekend's camp, Santoso had no scholarship offers. That figures to change very quickly.

"I went to the Georgia Tech, Auburn and Miami camps, but nobody has really contacted me," Santoso said. "I'll be interested in whoever needs or wants me."

Fellow Floridian Sean Covington will join Santoso at the Under Armour All-American game after cementing his position as one of the nation's elite kickers. Ranked as Kohl's No. 1 punter and No. 18 kicker, the St. Petersburg High School senior-to-be placed third in kickoffs and fifth in field goal accuracy last weekend. Despite only finishing 20th in the overall punting statistics, Covington launched the biggest punt of the three-day affair, a 66-yard kick with an amazing 4.69 hang time.

Covington is hoping he can continue his off-the-field surfing hobby by playing college football on the West Coast.

"I'm looking at UCLA and USC and there's interest from North Carolina and Rutgers," Covington said. "I'm still waiting to see what happens."

While Santoso and Covington were the two kickers selected for the Under Armour All-America game set for January in St. Petersburg on a date still to be determined, there was plenty of other Division I kicking talent on display last weekend.

Zane Gonzalez, a rising senior at Deer Park (TX) High School posted the top field goal numbers by connecting on 22-of-27 kicks, following up his perfect 10-for-10 performance at last January's Kohl's Underclassman Challenge in Orlando.

Close behind was Luc Swimberghe from Lindale (TX) High School, who hit 21-of-27 kicks. Swimberghe, who has committed to Sam Houston State, also finished eighth in kickoffs, averaging 69 yards and a 3.67 hang time per kick.

Austin Barnard, a rising senior from Whitewater, GA, dominated the punting competition, averaging 50.4 yards with a 4.27 hang time on his 27 kicks. The runnerup to Barnard was rising junior JK Scott from Mullen High School in Denver, CO, who averaged 42 yards per kick with a camp-leading 4.48 average hang time.

Scott, the only non-Class of 2013 athlete selected, was joined on the Kohl's All-Camp team by Santoso, Covington, Gonzalez, Swimberghe, Daniel Carlson (Auburn commit), Harrison Butker (Georgia Tech), Ty Cummings (University of Houston), Miles Bergner, Cameron Van Winkle (University of Washington), Johnny Townsend (Ohio State), Austin Barnes, Griffin Oakes and Houstin Syvertson.

While Scott was clearly the top Class of 2014 punter, Gary Wunderlich of Memphis (TN) University School had the best overall showing by a Class of 2014 kicker. Wunderlich led all members of his class in kickoffs, averaging 68.5 yards and a 3.9 hang time, finished second in field goals, making 18-of-27 kicks, and was second to Scott in punting with a 42-yard average with a 4.0 hang time. John Duvic from Naperville, IL topped the 2014 kickers by making 21-of-27 field goal attempts.

In addition to the nearly 400 kickers who attended the Kohl's Scholarship Camp, there were 43 long snappers who competed for two spots on the Under Armour All-American team.

Tyler Kluver from Marshalltown, IA, who came into the camp ranked No. 8 nationally, earned one of the Under Armour positions by winning the overall competition and was joined as an Under Armour selection by Brendon Turelli of Arcadia High School in Phoenix, AZ, who is the nation's No. 1 ranked snapper.

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