K/P Jay Ottovegio

Visions of BuddyBall greatness derailed by punting inconsistencies plague us all, and thus the search for a punter has continued with great vigor. The young man with the golden leg at the end of the rainbow is Jay Ottovegio, and he has an early Stanford offer to prove that interest. Read on for his off-season workouts, and his recruting prognosis.

K/P Jay Ottovegio (profile)
St. Thomas Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)
Ht: 6-0  Wt: 190
no Nike numbers

Stanford fans following the last several years of football recruiting have long cried for a punter, and though the last three or four classes have brought superstars to the Farm at every position on the field, Cardinalmaniacs™ are still saddled with fitful nights of sleeplessness, sans punter.  That wait may be finally over with Fort Lauderdale's Jay Ottovegio of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Jay is recognized as at least as strong a placekicker as punter, earning first team all-state honors in Florida for kicking this past junior season.  He was also all-state as a punter his sophomore year.  Bill Buchalter of the Orlando Sentinel just named Jay the top kicking prospect in the state in his preseason Florida recruiting list.  Jay hit 7 of 10 field goals this past season, and punted consistently between 40 and 45 yards.

Though he has earned these accolades and put up strong numbers, Jay has been working tirelessly in the offseason to improve both his kicking and punting.  He and his coaches spend a lot of time looking at film, frame by frame, to analyze his motion tendencies.  In addition to the usual strength and conditioning work with his STA teammates, Jay has been specifically targeting his flexibility and has done a lot of exercises and stretching toward that goal.

"Last year, we saw on film that my leg was stopping when I hit the ball on kicks.  I was getting distance, but not as much power as I should."

With improved flexibility and range of motion with his leg today, Jay is getting more height on his kicks and consistent power.  Additionally, the mental game is an area of great effort.

"I know how to kick the ball - I have all the technique down at this point.  But I need to achieve greater focus to do exactly the same thing every time, more consistently."

As for punting, Jay says that he has gotten good distance on his boots, but a jerky motion in the past has put some undue stress on his hips and quads.  Improvements on that motion today allow him to punt at full strength for more repetitions during a workout.  That will translate to the season, allowing him to go through a full game with greater power through all four quarters.  Jay also says he just feels a more fluid motion punting today.  All of this work has made dramatic improvements with his height and hangtime.  Though he got distance on his punts last year, they were too often low and returnable.  His hangtime was usually below 4.0 seconds, but he consistently is hitting 4.3 to 4.5 seconds this summer.  Every few kicks, he can get up to 4.7 or 4.8 seconds in the air.  Don't expect Jay's distance to push further than the low 40's, but this hangtime improvement is huge.

One more area of work has been on his PAT and FG kicking.  Jay had three kicks blocked last year: one was due to a bad snap and blocking breakdown, but two were fully his fault - too low and easily batted at the line.  With that in mind, Jay has worked to get his kicks off higher and faster, and they should be virtually unblockable at the line of scrimmage this next year.

Sounds like one heck of a lot of work on kicking this off-season, though don't worry about Jay Ottovegio not having any fun.  He recently spent two weeks in Europe with his family, and he spends plenty of time playing with teammate and recently notable Stanford recruit David Marerro on the Sony Playstation.  Speaking of Marrero, his recent commitment to Notre Dame might have appeared to have a ripple effect with Jay, given that the two are best friends.  There families are very close friends as well.  And while Jay and David had talked about the attraction of going to school together at Stanford, David's decision has no effect on Jay's outlook on schools.

And that outlook has Stanford as a very clear #1 with the young punter: "Right now, Stanford is pretty much up there all by itself." Stanford and San Diego State are the two offers for him to date, though he has strong reciprocal interest with North Carolina, Wake Forest, Virginia and Florida.  Those four schools round out his top five behind Stanford at this time.  Iowa is also starting to recruit him with much greater vigor.  While Jay has just the two offers to date, you have to keep in mind that kickers and punters rarely see offers before their senior seasons.  For Jay to have received his Stanford offer this spring, it was both surprising and invigorating for him.  He says that he recognizes the leap that the Stanford staff took with his early recruitment and offer, and that continues to impact his view of the school and program.  Other offers could come from these other schools once they get to watch him more closely this fall season, but they have a lot of catch-up work to do.

Jay says that Stanford has told him there is a great need for him to punt right away, but that he would be needed to kick down the road, as well, behind and eventually succeeding Michael Sgroi.  I asked Jay how he feels about kicking versus punting, and he thought long and hard about the question.  He feels that kicking is a little more exciting because of how much more it overtly impacts a football game, but he loves doing both and can not say which will be his greater area of success at the collegiate level.

As strongly as Jay feels about Stanford as his top choice today, he is being judicious about his approach to a final decision.  He would like to take a few visits to Stanford and some others to validate his thinking today.  He has been given advice by some people in Florida that it is often best to take your last visit to your top school, so it is likely that Jay would be touring some other campuses around the country before hitting the Farm.  No visits have been scheduled at this time.

The first important hurdle for Jay is the admissions process for Stanford.  He carries a 3.6 GPA and has registered a best score of 1190 on his SAT.  With those numbers in hand, he is almost done with the application - just getting a final look at his essays.  He says he could have it in the mail in the next few days.

This looks to me like a very clear situation where a kid like Jay has a heavy predisposition toward Stanford, and just needs to get the admissions OK and a favorable visit to seal the deal.  As with all recruits, that admissions hurdle is a serious and unpredictable one, so that is what you watch here.  If Jay gets in, I would essentially tally him up as the next punter and kicker at Stanford.  And believe me that his role and importance in this class would be larger than large.


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