Q&A - Chris Sailer

Dawgman.com spoke Monday afternoon with Chris Sailer, who is known nationally as the number one authority on specialists, connecting kicking and punting prospects with colleges and getting those players prepared for life at the next level.

He has worked with incoming kickers Travis Coons and Korey Durkee, as well as 2013 commit Cameron Van Winkle, so he has special insight into their strengths and weaknesses, as well as how they'll fit into Washington's plan for this fall as they try and replace seniors at all three positions - kickoffs, field goals/PAT's, and punting.

On Travis Coons and the fact that he had a very low FG percentage last season - "The quality of high school and junior college football when it comes to the actual operation of snap, hold, kick isn't going to show you the true picture of what these guys are capable of doing. And also with Travis, they had another capable kicker there (at Mt. SAC), so what they did is split up the kicks. Travis only hit long field goals. They were all 50-plus yarders. So what kicker goes 80 percent from 50-plus? It doesn't happen. So he's been in a position where he hasn't necessarily succeeded percentage-wise on field goals - but what I can tell you is over the last three years at my kicking camps, Travis is probably one of the top 2-3 field goal kickers that I've had. He's extremely smooth, accurate, and consistent - everything you're looking for in a Division-1 kicker, he has."

So it sounds like Travis is a late bloomer? - "Absolutely. I had him in high school. He was a talented kicker in high school, but it was talent and potential; it was not refined. He is a great athlete that played other sports and did other things, and he only really decided to focus on this when it came time to make his college choice. He wasn't one of those players that said, 'this is what I want to do' as a freshman and went out and worked for it. He was a guy that was pretty talented, but he was never refined when it came to technique. He was not a guy that was a D1 prospect back then, at best he would have been a walk-on. He focused on it when he got to college. He said, 'hey, this is something I want to do, I want to have a future in this'. He worked his butt off and got himself to the point where he was 100 percent into it and was a true D1 college kicking prospect. When it comes to the JC guys and getting their AA and all sorts of things, it just took him that amount of time to sign with a D1 one program, but as soon as that happened every school that was looking was after him."

On UW's expectations for Coons, based on conversations he has had with their coaches - "Their expectations is that when he comes in he will kick off and he will kick field goals. And with those two particular skills, he will be not only a good kicker in the Pac-12; he should compete for All-Pac-12 honors. I feel he's that good. They aren't going to go after junior college player and expect anything less, so that's why in our conversations this was a guy that could do that. I think he'll step in and take over right where Folk left off. And I can you right now he's a very capable punter. In recruiting a high school punter in Korey, it's very difficult to count on him as a freshman. Travis is a very capable punter and I expect them to give him every opportunity to win that job as well. Don't be surprised to see him out there as a triple threat next year."

On what Coons needs to work on in order to maximize his development - "He has worked extremely hard; he's one of the hardest working guys over the course of the last two years to get where he currently is. Physically he's ready, mentally the kid's very strong. He's steps up a great deal when it comes to competition. What he lacks is game experience, and you can't get that until you're put in the situation. With all these young players, the ability to play when the game is on the line and you're in front of a large crowd - those sorts of things. So that's the only thing he has not proven is the ability to get the job done in a game. But knowing the kid and knowing what he's gone through and knowing specialists and having evaluated them now for years, I expect Travis to come in and absolutely nail it. Not only will he do a good job, but he should do a great job for them."

Korey Durkee and his development as a punter - "Korey is a great athlete, very strong leg. He kicks, punts, kicks off - does all the skills - but it wasn't until this last year did he start to focus on the punting. With any young player, when you become a punter it's a very difficult skill. It's the toughest of the three skills, so you're going to struggle. Korey has proven he can hit a big ball; what he hasn't proven yet is that he can be consistent yet. And that's the case, for the most part, with all high school punters. It's very rare that you see a high school player step in as a true freshman and be the guy - and not only be the guy, but actually be a good punter. They generally go through some ups and downs if they are counted on as true freshmen, so that's why you see a lot of these colleges go after JC guys because they are more older and more mature and they've worked on things more. So I expect Korey to be a great punter down the road, but like any great athlete coming out of high school it does take time to develop that consistency, both in technique and in results. So for me, right now I think it's going to be a very, very interesting battle between Travis and Korey coming into camp on the punting side, but down the road expect Korey to be a very good punter."

So Coons could be a legitimate triple threat this fall? That seems pretty rare nowadays. - "Most programs, if given the option will not go in that direction because of the muscle memory and the swings are different and doing all three may take a bit away from one of the skills because of the fact that you are doing all three so you may not be as strong on each position. So universities, if they can, will shy away from it. But in this situation - where it doesn't come up all that often - Washington is put in the situation where they have the need to start two rookies, in a sense…guys that haven't done it yet for them, and that's a dangerous situation to be in. So I think this would be the case where if Travis comes in and is clearly a better punter than Korey right now, they'll do that. They need to win games today, they can't wait. So if it takes a little away from his kicking, it probably still benefits them to play him at all three positions. Now if Korey can come in and do what we think he can do and be consistent, he can step in and be a good punter. But again it's difficult to count on a true freshman, so I see it being competitive. Knowing what Travis can do as a punter, I wouldn't be surprised to see him do all three because he's a bit older and mature and is a little bit more consistent on the punting side of things right now."

On the commitment of Cameron Van Winkle to Washington - "He's definitely a national prospect. Because he's done a great job up there, he's gone on the national scene pretty quickly. He's done well during his season, which is not very common in high school to get a lot of attempts. He's come to our kicking camps and done a great job of competing with all the national prospects. So Cameron has put together exactly what you'd want to see in a high school prospect. He's done pretty much everything you'd expect of him, so his commit is exactly what you're looking for if you are a school like Washington. The guy has proven it, he's done it. He's someone that, when you've also gone after someone like Travis, who is a JC guy, it gives them that security behind Travis so when his eligibility is done they have a very good, experienced player like Van Winkle stepping in right behind him."

Van Winkle's strengths and weaknesses? - "I'll tell you right now, Cameron's major strength is his field goals. He's very consistent, shows great technique, has a great leg, he can kick off the ground flawlessly…I could see him stepping in tomorrow and going 75-80 percent right off the bat, which would be great for someone his age. His kickoffs right now are excellent, but they aren't the best in the country. But they are consistent and they are near the top, so right now he could step in and be a kickoff guy, but as he develops and gets stronger over the course of college expect him to be a top kickoff guy as well. What Cameron also brings to the table is that he's a pretty good combo player; he can also punt. He doesn't have the 6-foot-4 size that a Korey Durkee has, but he has been working on this for a long, long time and is a very polished player. I could see him also as someone that could push someone out and could step in if there's a problem someplace, if someone is struggling with consistently with punting he has the ability to punt as well, which is great to have in a college program."

To find out more about Chris Sailer and his kicking/punting camps, as well as Chris Rubio's long snapping camps, click on the link below.

Chris Sailer Kicking/Rubio Long Snapping

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