Spring Breakout Players: No. 6

In our continuing series on the players we think can break out this spring, we take a look at incoming freshman K Cameron Van Winkle who will enroll at Washington in time to take part in the in the final nine practices of spring football. The Snoqualmie, Wa. native has a chance to win the kicking job this year if he can show the coaches he's got the distance and accuracy they are looking for...

Background: Hailing from Mount Si High School which lies just off I-90 in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, Van Winkle began his prep career in relative anonimity. However, as the Wildcats got better and word started to spread about his exploits in practice as well as in games, college recruiters and recruiting networks began to pay closer attention. When it was all said and done, Van Winkle held the state record for most career field goals made with 39 and a career-long of 56 yards. Washington was the second school to offer Van Winkle (Washington State was the first) and he committed shortly after that, ending the recruiting process very early. Schools like Oregon, Arizona State, Stanford and Tennessee among others made runs at him, but he was steadfast in his commitment to the Huskies and he never looked back.

Why Van Winkle?: Of the 10 players we have chosen as breakout players, Van Winkle has the "easiest" road to earning a starting spot. First off, he's enrolling early enought to be able to participate in nine of the 15 practices this spring. That will give him a leg up, no pun intended, on getting used to the speed of the game, kicking with a different tee kickoffs and getting used to his battery (snapper and holder). It will also give him the entire spring and summer to work out with the team and improve his already strong leg. He's already got the ability to get it done, so a lot of it will depend on his mental makeup.

The Competition: While Van Winkle can punt, his real impact at Washington will be as a place kicker. He will battle senior-to-be Travis Coons for the kicking duties all through the spring and into the fall. That includes both field goals and kickoffs. Coons has a good leg, but he did have two misses that arguably cost Washington games against Washington State and Boise State. People also were wary of Coons' kickoffs which were inconsistent at best in 2012. Van Winkle has the leg to get the ball into the endzone on a regular basis and he's proven to be accurate in clutch situations, so the coaches will give him every chance to earn the kicking duties, allowing Coons to move over and focus solely on punting.

Cameron Van Winkle Scout Profile

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