Wunderlich On Board

Gary Wunderlich spent time at the UnderArmour game in Florida recently. Now that it's over, that can mean only one thing: Signing Day is drawing closer.

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The Memphis University School product, who committed to Virginia last spring but changed his commitment to Ole Miss last summer, kicked off three times for a 60-yard average in St. Petersburg and punted twice for an average of 43 yards.

Wunderlich said the whole experience was positive.

"It was great. It was a really fun week," said the 6-foot, 175-pounder regarded as one of the nation's best high school senior placekickers and in some circles rated as No. 1.

"Just being able to hang out with Rod (Taylor) and Garrald (McDowell), two other Ole Miss guys, was fun. And to meet guys going to schools all over the country was a neat experience."

After inking with Ole Miss on Feb. 5, Wunderlich, who took an official visit to Oxford over the weekend, plans to continue to develop even better as a kicker and punter and see where he lines up when he arrives at Ole Miss. Both placekicker Andrew Ritter and punter Tyler Campbell are done after five-year college careers.

"I know they have a couple of guys there, a couple of guys competing for field goals, a couple of guys for kickoffs, and a couple of guys for punts," Wunderlich said. "They (coaches) have said it's kind of wide open and that I could come in and compete for the job in the fall."

He plans to do that. He's been competing and winning throughout his career. As a senior at MUS, Wunderlich helped the Owls to the D-II AA Championship game. For the season, he punted the ball 40 times for a 44.6-yard average.

Gary Wunderlich
File Photo

He was 49 of 50 on his extra points, while 55 of his 67 kickoffs were downed in the end zone. Wunderlich was 9 of 17 in the field goal department with four of his misses from over 50 yards. His long for the season was 52 yards. Wunderlich made three field goals from over 50 yards.

"In the spring I'll be working out and kicking at my high school," he said. "I'm sure I'll come to Ole Miss at the end of May, start school and start working out.

"Right now I'm really focusing on kicking off the ground. I'd been kicking off a one-inch tee. I've gotten rid of that. I'm now focusing on my technique and kicking off the ground. That's the biggest thing right now."

Wunderlich said he's still kicking well even without the tee. It's a lot the same.

"It's not too big a difference," he said. "The technique has to be better going off the ground than it is off a one-inch. I'm hitting pretty much the same off the ground. Most kickers (in high school) use a one-inch. They can be up to two inches."

Another change heading to college is the kickoff yard line. In high school it's the 40; in college the 35. Wunderlich said he's still confident he can kick the ball deep.

"There weren't many times I didn't get it into the end zone," he said.

Wunderlich changed to Ole Miss mainly because he saw two programs on opposite paths.

"I thought the program (at Ole Miss) was heading in the right direction," he said. "At Virginia, I wasn't feeling too good about where they were going. It turned out I was right. They went 2-10 this season, so they did not have a good year at all. I really like the (Ole Miss) coaching staff, and it's closer to home. My family can come to see me play, and that was very important."

Wunderlich had it narrowed down all along.

"It was always Virginia and Ole Miss for me," he said. "I had an offer from Texas A&M and I went and visited. But I knew it would be Ole Miss or Virginia. My whole family is pretty much from Virginia. My stepdad went to Ole Miss. My uncle went to Ole Miss. Me being in Memphis, we go down to Oxford all the time. My family likes Ole Miss, too. I've been to pretty much every home game the past three or four years."

He was named first team all-state in Tennessee this year and was named Best of the Preps by The Commercial Appeal. Simply put, Wunderlich wants to be the kicker at Ole Miss.

"My first goal would be to win the kicking job. That's what they're bringing me in to do," he said. "I think I have a chance. I know those guys down there are good, so it's going to be tough.

"I'm definitely excited. It's been a dream of mine. It'll be pretty awesome to be there."

As for this past weekend, Wunderlich said it was what he expected and more.

"It was a lot of fun. My host was John Youngblood. I definitely already knew the place and the facilities and all. Meeting the players and some of the commits and stuff, that was good. My commitment is as strong as ever; if anything even stronger. It was awesome."

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