Colorado kicker/punter in crimson orbit

FROM 2001-2003, Washington State averaged more than 22 field goals per season, connecting at a 78 percent clip. Since? WSU has averaged 11 treys and a 61 percent success rate from '04-'07. One prep kicker the Cougs are in contact with is accurate (6-6 in '08), has a big leg (hit a 53-yarder earlier this season) and kicks in all kinds of inclement weather. And he's also an accomplished punter.

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A lifelong soccer player whose first year playing football was last season, Zach Grossnickle is a combined 10-for-10 in field goals in a 16-game high school career, 39-of-45 in extra points, according to the Rocky Mountain News.

Grossnickle plans on coming up to the Palouse in November for an unofficial visit once his season ends and said in a recent conversation with CF.C that Washington State, along with Colorado State and USC, stand out most to him, with Stanford also in the mix.

Kicking it at WSU
Washington State is off to an accurate start on field goals this season, connecting on 5-for-7 through six games in 2008. And the distance on kickoffs has been better this year.

At the same time, if the current pace holds true, WSU would finish the 2008 season with 11 field goals. That's on par with the last four seasons, less than half the 2003 total of 27, and exactly half that of the 2002 campaign. And distance and opponents' starting field position following a Cougar kickoff the previous four seasons has been a thorn in the side of the Cougs and their defensive efforts.

Sure, there are plenty of factors that go into a field goal attempt, make and miss, including that if the offense doesn't get down to the 30-yard line or so, a placekicker can't exactly do much about putting three points up on the board.

But the overwhelming theme the previous four seasons for WSU has been accuracy, or rather, a decided lack of it. That in turn has also led to Washington State going for it on fourth down at, near or inside the 30-yard line on a number of occasions the past four seasons.

WSU's field goal makes and misses over the past seven years:

2001 -- 18-22
2002 -- 22-33
2003 -- 27- 31
2004 -- 6-14 
2005 -- 14-22
2006 -- 10-16  
2007 -- 14-20   

"I've heard good things about the school," said Grossnickle of Wazzu. "I have family that lives up there, an aunt and uncle who like up in Washington state. I also like it because the region is kind of like that of Colorado, but it's still a different than home."

Grossnickle's been hearing most from Washington State, Colorado State and San Diego State most since schools were allowed to place a call to prospects since Sep. 1. Colorado likes him most as a punter.

As a junior, he was his team's second-leading scorer on both football and soccer teams.

HOW STRONG A leg does he have? Grossnickle connected on a record 61-yard field goal at the Ray Guy Camp this summer. In practice at East High, he booted a 67-yarder. And in a state competition this summer against high school seniors, Grossnickle won the kickoff competition with a long of 70 yards and an average 3.81 second hang time. He also booted a 50-yard punt with a hang-time of 4.8 seconds.

Playing in Eugene, Corvallis, Seattle and Pullman in November can mean kicking in less than ideal conditions. Grossnickle, from Denver, is used to it.

"I've kicked in some pretty cold games. There was one with (freezing rain) and it really hurt to do the kickoffs. But they still went far enough to where they couldn't return them," said Grossnickle.

So why doesn't Grossnickle doesn't yet have a scholarship offer? The topic lends itself to an age-old debate among the Cougar Faithful -- whether a scholarship for a kicker or punter should be offered or earned.

The Cougs, and many other schools, have often found the most success with a walk-on who then earned a scholarship. (See Drew Dunning) On the other hand, in each recruiting class, there's usually a few who receive scholarship offers from D-IA schools who go on to have solid college careers.

Grossnickle, who is also solid in the classroom, said he hopes to earn scholarship offers before February's Letter of Intent Day. But if the "right school" asks him to walk on?

"If the situation is right, I would do it," said Grossnickle, who is eyeing an architecture or business degree.

Zach Grossnickle profile

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