Iowa Lands Walk On Kicker

The Iowa Hawkeyes came out of spring practice without a real back up at place kicker. But based on reports out of Boca Raton, they may have found their man in Griffin Karr of Boca Raton. spoke with kicking guru Mike McCabe, one of Griffin's biggest kicking influences, for his take on the newest Hawkeye.

Coming out of fall drills, the Iowa Hawkeyes knew that they had one solid place kicker in Kyle Schlicher, but after that, little else.

Kirk Ferentz was asked about a back up place kicker during the spring press conferences and there were no answers.

One had to think that Schlicher would be escorted around campus this summer to make sure he stays out of harms way.

But then this week, Iowa received news that a kicker from the state of Florida would be walking on to the program.

That young man is Griffin Karr, from Boca Raton. He was the runner up for the high school Lou Groza award, given to the state's best field goal kicker.

Karr has been training with kicking expert Mike McCabe who runs One on One Kicking camps ( McCabe led the nation in punting in 1988 while at Illinois State and was with the Chicago Bears for a short time before an Achilles injury ended his career.

"Griffin actually turned down two scholarships to be a preferred walk on at Iowa. As an athlete and a kicker, he is one of the best I have seen in my time in the industry, as a kicker." McCabe said, adding that Karr was also an all state punter.

"We held a combine for him (as a place kicker) and up to 55-yards, he was 100% from left hash, middle to right hash (every five yards), and he was 1 of 2 from 60-yards. His kickoffs are about five yards deep in the end zone from the 35-yard line."

"He is hitting at the worst, 3.7 seconds hang time (on kickoffs) and the best is about 3.97. He is still a young man, so he is still growing and developing. We have workout programs for him, so he is running and lifting, isometrics, all of the things we do for our kids that we train. Visualization, video analysis; we teach them to teach themselves so when they are off at school, they are pre-programmed."

Several of McCabe's protégé's have found their way into the college ranks, including Florida punter Eric Wilbur and Miami kicker/punter Brian Monroe. Former Ankeny, Iowa standout Todd Sievers has also studied under McCabe's watchful eyes, and his program is unique and advanced.

"A lot of kickers, when they are in college, go out and kick in practice. That is the worst thing you can do, because you develop a lot of bad habits. We teach our kids to do the drills of the off days and kick every other day instead of every day. On the off days, they are doing drills, because that builds muscle memory." McCabe said.

"Griffin will have an advantage due to that, as he is being trained every week. He has been with us for two months. By working with us, he has increased five yards on his kicks and kickoffs. Most kicking camps or programs are three-day events. Ours is different. I have been to some of those camps when I was a kid, and you will get 15-20 minutes with the kicking instructors and that is it."

"What we do is take the best college kickers, and the top juniors and seniors in the state of Florida and train them. That is why we have a high success ratio of kids doing well in college."

McCabe was also one of the voices that Karr, who is 5-feet-10 and 170-pounds, listened to when deciding on his college decision.

"He asked me ‘If I walk on at Iowa, do I have a chance?" and I said of course you do. If he didn't, I would tell him. He is a very accurate kicker, and his technique reminds me a lot of Nate's (Kaeding)." McCabe said.

"In the end, he felt that he could get more exposure at Iowa and two, they have just one kicker on the roster. This kid loves to compete. He wants to go to the next level as well. From what I know about the Iowa coaches, is that they don't play favorites. They are going to play the best guy, whether or not he is on scholarship."

"Kicking was such a big part of Iowa's success this year. When you have a kicker like Kaeding, that makes a difference. Plus, the competition he is kicking against is different at our camps. All he will do is get better. Griffin bugs players so much, in that he asks questions, and that is how you become a great player."

While Karr can punt, McCabe feels that handling both punting and kicking duties at the college level is difficult, due to the different leg swings.

"When you are a D1 punter, you need to hit 45-yards with a 4.6 hang if you want to be good. He is maybe at 4.0 to 4.2, so he has some work there. But as a place kicker, he is a different story." McCabe said.

"I mean, he can kick the ball to the back of the end zone now. So we are drilling him all the time instead of just kicking all of the time."

Kyle Schlicher just spent two years observing and learning from one of the greatest kickers in the history of college football, but McCabe says to not rule out his protégé.

"I have never seen the other young man kick at Iowa, but he had better train hard, because Griffin is determined. But the best thing for both of them will be the competition, as that just makes good players great."

Speaking to recently, Karr said the following:

"Offensive coordinator [Ken] O'Keefe and special teams coach [Lester] Erb said I have potential and they have faith in me. I sent them my tape and they said I resembled former Iowa kicker Nate Kaeding."

The longest field goal that Karr made in competition was from 49-yards, and he told that he made a 64-yarder in practice. Karr also hit a 40-yard game winner in the waning seconds of a game during his junior season.

Karr carries a 3.4 grade point average as well.



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