Conaway the future of Oregon kicking?

Edmond (Okla.) kicker Quinton Conaway accepts a preferred walk-on spot with the Oregon Ducks on Friday afternoon.

Oklahoma-based kicker Quinton Conaway has accepted a preferred walk-on position with the Oregon Ducks.

Conaway delivered the news from his Twitter account on Friday afternoon, taking a spot that was offered to him earlier this week by special teams coach Tom Osborne.

“It’s honestly a dream come true,” Conaway said of taking a spot with the Ducks. “It feels amazing to be finally committed to a school I see myself happy at, both with football and just living in general.”

Conaway also received heavy interest from Hawaii, but in the end his heart was with Oregon. After a visit during his sophomore year, he fell in love with everything about and around the program, and since then he’s praised the coaching staff for being honest with him throughout the process.

“I love the weather in Oregon,” he said. “I love their program, their coaches have always been very upfront with me, and I just see myself succeeding and being happy.”

Conaway is ranked in the top 10 of his class by the prestigious Chris Sailer Kicking, and he has been developing his skills as a punter to complete his all-around game. Sailer himself offered a ringing endorsement of Conaway’s skills, having known him since his freshman year in high school.

“I believe he can kick off for University of Oregon his true freshman year,” Sailer said. “As a true freshman he’ll be able to battle for the field goal spot and also, I think with his leg strength and athleticism and his development, I also believe he’ll be able to challenge for the punting position.”

Sailer, who is a veteran kicking and punting instructor of over 16 years, said there were advantages to having a player like Conaway that can kick and punt. First, the player can raise the competition level at each position during fall camp and additionally, the team can travel with one less player on special teams to open up a free spot for another weapon elsewhere on the field.

Sailer is confident that the 6-foot-1, 185-pound prospect is the real deal, especially when comparing him to over 1,000 prospects that he’s evaluated in the last year. Typically, a top kicker in Sailer’s Academy can hit from a 60-65 yard range and while Conaway may not be quite that strong, he’s certainly accurate from a long range.

“I’d say he’s Top 15 national talent when it comes to just pure leg strength,” Sailer said. “Think about that. If that’s a walk-on offer, that’s a steal. He has 55-yard range for sure if there’s no wind. If you put the wind behind his back, he can go up to 60. Obviously, with the wind in his face, like with any kicker, you’re looking at low-50’s, maybe even high-40’s depending on how strong the wind is.

“As far as left and right hash, every kick is straight. It doesn’t really matter for him. He’s been well-coached. He’s got a great mental approach to it and I don’t see him having those problems other than things any other true freshman is dealing with, (like) the pressure of the game and hopefully being able to step up in those situations.”

Although he is a military kid, Conaway admitted that he is a little apprehensive of moving away from Oklahoma, a plaace he has called his home since the seventh grade. However, his parents could be following him to the Northwest to live up in Washington, which should make the transition easier.

While the kicking game improved in 2014 for Oregon behind Aiden Schneider, given the on and off struggles to find a consistent kicker over the past decade, Conaway hopes this isn’t the last time you see his name either.

“Hopefully there will be more stories about me knocking them through the uprights in the coming years,” he said.

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