Iowa State punter Kirby Van Der Kamp was invited to the 2014 Senior Bowl over the weekend, the Mobile, Ala., All-Star game in January where departing college seniors will showcase their skills for NFL scouts.
ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper has Van Der Kamp as the No. 1 punter in the NFL draft. Two punters have been chosen in each of the last two drafts, and every draft since 1999 has included a punter.
Iowa State has sent 23 players to the Senior Bowl and seven since 2000, most recently Kelechi Osemeli and Leonard Johnson.
Said Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads: "I believe [Van Der Kamp] [has what it takes]. He's had more big punts this year and his punts inside the 20 have been right up there, matching his numbers, but he also has had an inconsistent year. It's hard for me to fully remember his freshman year but his sophomore and junior campaigns were better than his overall year this year. So you've got to look at his complete body of work. There's no question he's got the leg, the ability to hit all types of punts. One thing at the next level you've got to do a better job of is hangtime, but he's got all the tools to get there with that."
Van Der Kamp discussed the honor with the media Tuesday evening. This season he has 17 punts of 50 yards or more with 25 kicks pinning an opponent inside its 25-yard line. His career average of 42.6 yards per punt is the second-best in school history and 20th-best in NCAA history.
Q: When did you find out?
A: "It was just an invitation, I didn't even know about it until they announced it in front of everyone at one of our meetings. It was a great surprise."
Q: When was the meeting?
A: "Sunday night."
Q: What was that like?
A: "It'll be a great experience, it's just nice to know people have been watching me throughout my whole career and see something in me. It'll just be a great experience to meet some people and play with some people."
Q: Were you surprised?
A: "I wasn't expecting it. I didn't know it came out this early, that type of stuff, those type of invitations. It was out of the blue for me."
Q: Some pretty elite guys from Iowa State have played in that game. What does it mean to be in that club?
A: "That's just a high honor. The prestige. You see what [Leonard Johnson and Kelechi Osemele] have done with their careers and it gives you hope."
Q: Do you pay attention to the draft analysts?
A: "People tweet stuff at me but I don't go out of my way and look for those things. What happens will happen, no matter if I'm looking for it or not."
Q: Is it wild to be No. 1 on [Mel Kiper Jr.'s] board?
A: "As a kid, I didn't think I'd be playing Division I football. To even have a shot at the NFL at this point is just a dream come true. Just amazing to see how things have fallen into place."