Academics Deciding Factor for Jelden

The Cowboys have already landed one verbal commitment from a kicker in the 2008 class. Now if the school's engineering department can do the trick, the Pokes could get another one…

Despite an all-state season, Kolten Jelden's kicking skills won't land him a football scholarship with Wyoming next year.

Then again, he doesn't really need one.

"I'm pretty smart," he said. "I have a 4.0-plus and a high ACT score, so even if I don't get an athletic scholarship, I can get lots of money from academic scholarships."

In fact, the 5-foot-10, 140-pound kicker from Eaton, Colo. is just as interested in Wyoming's engineering department as he is in its athletic department. And even though the Cowboys boast the most prestigious gridiron program of the schools recruiting Jelden, they'll have to overcome stiff competition on the academic front to earn the senior's services in 2008.

While engineering is arguably UW's most heralded program, the Colorado School of Mines and the South Dakota School of Mines—both devoted to engineering—have also shown heavy interest in Jelden, though neither has offered him an athletic scholarship.

"I don't really have a first choice right now," he said. "I'm just waiting to see what happens.

"I'm planning on studying engineering, so it just kind of depends on which program I like best."

Jelden reports a composite ACT score of 26, including a 28 in math and a 29 in science.

But despite his academic accomplishments, Jelden's kicking statistics are arguably more impressive. The senior knocked in eight field goals on 10 tries in 2007, including two from 40 yards or longer. He also finished a perfect 38-of-38 on extra points and was Eaton's punter and kickoff specialist.

He made an official visit to UW this weekend and said the trip "went well." The Cowboys already have a verbal commitment from Texas standout kicker Ben Parks, however, and UW coaches told Jelden he would have to walk on his freshman year.

Jelden didn't log as many kicking attempts in ‘07 as Parks, who converted 11 field goals on 17 tries and 60 PATs on 63 attempts, but the Eaton senior said he is prepared to let his leg speak for itself.

"The fact that I'm not the biggest kid but I can still kick the ball as far as anyone is a huge advantage," he said. "My parents are both pretty tall and pretty big, so I've still got a good chance of growing.

"It's a big deal about playing Division I football, but I'm real competitive so (fighting for playing time) is not a big deal."

On top of his athletic and academic accolades, Jelden is a nationally-ranked water skier. He placed fifth in the Slalom portion of the 2007 Goode Nationals this summer.

He also suffered a water skiing injury early in the '07 football season which he battled the rest of the year. He managed to stay consistent on the field, earning all-conference (Patriot League) and all-state honors, and against defending State Champion Faith Christian he kicked a 25-yard, game-winning field goal with 16 seconds left to advance Eaton to the state semifinals.

"It was a tie game," he said. "We drove down to the eight-yard line and called timeout, and then we went in and kicked. I wasn't really nervous. I've practiced that in my backyard 100 times, so I stayed nice and calm and kicked it through."

It was just like Jelden's coaches envisioned.

"They were pretty confident in me," he said.

Just like Wyoming hopes Jelden will be in its engineering program.

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