It's rare that high school kickers have the opportunity to get scholarship offers. A lot of it is based on schools' needs at other positions, which in many cases leads to the waiting game for many kickers. Pitt has been fortunate in recent years to have kickers like Conor Lee and Dan Hutchins come to the team as walk-ons, earn scholarships and go on to productive careers.
Paul Chryst has a little bit of a numbers game in his first class. With some flexibility, and the fact that he has a senior scholarship kicker in Kevin Harper this year, there's room to replace Harper's scholarship without hurting the numbers too much. Chryst has placed an additional emphasis on special teams, also taking punter Ryan Winslow. He later added kicker Chris Blewitt.
Blewitt has been a fixture at some of Jamie Kohl's kicking camps. Kohl--who spends countless hours working his camps and evaluating kickers--said it's not too hard to evaluate a kicker like Blewitt; someone he's gotten a chance to know very well.
"Chris Blewitt is a guy that's come to a couple of our events and done extremely well," Kohl said. "He's a guy, the first time I saw him was in May at our Eastern Showcase Camp. I knew him immediately after a day of drill work, chartings and competitions. He was a DI specialist. I think he probably, to be honest with you, he can kick and punt at the Division I level. I think he's probably a little better as a kicker. His strengths are his repeat ability, and really his mental toughness."
Mental toughness is a major factor for kickers. Think of Pitt in some recent years--Lee's game-winning field goal at Notre Dame in 2008, or Dan Hutchins kicking four field goals including a game-winner in the 2009 Meineke Car Care Bowl against North Carolina. Kohl doesn't hesitate to throw in mental toughness as one of the kicking characteristics.
"His mental toughness is as good as anyone we've seen at the high school level," Kohl said. "He kicks really smooth off the ground; his height. His kickoffs have a great pop on them. His punting--his repeat ability to hit spirals and turnovers--he had over a five-second hang time because of his leg speed at our camp. He's a good competitor, and I really liked what I saw at the Showcase Camp."
Repeat ability is something Kohl mentioned at least three times when discussing Blewitt. In other words, not only can Blewitt have a solid hang time or a good 'pop,' but it sounds like he can do it consistently. It might not sound like much, but even if a kicker misses one field goal or extra point, or shanks one punt, that alone is often used to criticize a kicker.
"I don't use that term lightly because, to be honest with you, there's not that many high school kids that have the repeat ability," Kohl said. "Hopefully that will continue. Hopefully he'll be doing some great things at Pitt in the years to come."
It also sounds like there is an existing relatnship with Kohl and Chryst. Kohl is based out of Wisconsin, but was also able to recommend a kicker as Chryst was looking for on. The ultimate result is Blewitt getting a scholarship opportunity at Pitt, and Chryst getting an ideal kicker for field goals, and possibly someone strong on kickoffs to help with field position. Unofficially, at the Showcase camp, Blewitt hit field goals from as long as 55 yards out. His kickoffs went as far as 71 yards. As a junior at West Potomac last year, he kicked 10 field goals with a long of 37. He also converted 49 extra points.
"We're good friends with a lot of the coaches at the University of Pittsburgh," Kohl said. "(Blewitt) did a great job there. He dominated the day. I think everybody at the camp felt he was the best prospect there, and I'm obviously happy to have helped in the process with Pitt to land what I think is an outstanding specialist."