Win Equals Scholarship

West Virginia has been keeping tabs on punter Scott Kozlowski of Royal Palm Beach (Fla.) High School for almost a year, but it was his performance at the 2005 National Kicking Expo (run by MSL, OneonOne Kicking and that cemented an offer for the powerful Floridian.

"West Virginia came to our spring practice this year, and Coach Hand saw him kicking," Kozlowkski's father, Scott Sr., told as he detailed his son's recruiting process. "He asked him if he would be interested in coming to WVU as a walkon, and Scott told him he was interested, but that he'd have to see how things progressed during his senior season."

As the year progressed, Scott Jr. did well, but as is usually the case with kickers and punters, contact and phone calls lessened during the season. This, despite the fact that he recorded 23 punts for an average of 46.3 yards, including a long of 59. His numbers were low due to Royal Palm's seven game schedule, which was abbreviated due to the hurricanes that swept across the Sunshine State in September and October.

Despite the low number of attempts, Kozlowski's numbers were very impressive. In addition to the great average, his hang time was also very good, routinely exceeding the 4.5 second mark. He got off one kick at a workout that stayed up for an amazing 5.18 seconds. Even with those stats, however, offers were slow in coming.

"We knew that kickers and punters are pretty much second tier when it came to scholarships," Scott Sr., said. "We kept telling him to be patient."

Scott Jr. did so, and kept working with his personal kicking coach, Mike McCabe. That work paid off, as he earned first team all conference, all county and all state Class 6A honors, which perked up interest from a few other schools. However, no other offers were forthcoming until Kozlowski laid down his monster performance at the National Kicking Competition. There, competing with 102 other kickers and punters, Kozlowski mowed down the competition with a blend of power and accuracy that led him to the championship of the event.

"I felt like it was my duty to win it," said the younger Kozlowski. "Being first team all-state, I didn't want someone to take it from me. I was confident, but I didn't want to go in thinking that no one else had a chance."

After his first day performance, however, not many did. On Saturday, which showcased distance and hangtime, Kozlowski boomed four punts of more than 50 yards, and averaged 4.7 seconds of hangtime. That easily moved him into Sunday's finals, where direction, placement and "get-off" times were measured. Kozlowski again dominated the competition, and his combined scores gave him the win in the event.

Making their last few visits, West Virginia coaches Rich Rodriguez, Calvin Magee and Hand traveled to Florida earlier this week to offer Kozlowski a scholarship, which he readily accepted.

"Two of my coaches (linebacker Ryan Brady and quarterback Darren Studstill) are WVU alumni, and they talk about West Virginia all the time," Scott Jr. said. "They also have a good architecture program, and that's something that I'm interested in. Through my coaches and how they talk I've gotten a good picture of West Virginia. It sounds like a nice place with good academics."

WVU's offer came just in time, as both Northwestern and Purdue made offers shortly thereafter. However, WVU was first to the table with the scholarship, and the senior nicknamed "Thunderfoot" told the other schools he is sticking with the Mountaineers.

By nature a two-step punter, Kozlowski has no problem with a one-step approach.

"I'm comfortable with a one-step," the unflappable punter noted. "I used it this year kicking out of the end zone or down near our goal line. You just have to concentrate on getting the ball away, where as with the two step you have a bit more time.

"It's not much different, really," he continued. With the one-step, I take a little different stance. I put my right foot out in front, so it's kind of like I have already taken the first step."

Kozlowski will take his first trip to West Virginia this weekend, when he accompanies Jarrett Brown and Jetavious Best from rival Palm Beach Lakes to the Mountain State.

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