Football Punting Instruction
Ray Guy Prokicker.com High School All-Americans
By MARK MAYNARD / Prokickernews.com
ASHLAND, Ky. – The inaugural Ray Guy Prokicker.com High School All-Americans include some of the nation’s top punting, kicking, kickoff and long-snapping prospects.
Players were selected after much vetting from the Prokicker.com staff, who watched and coached the players during camps, and also by how the players performed on the field during the 2011 high school season.
“Our staff has personally watched these players and worked with these players during camps,” said Prokicker.com founder and camp director Rick Sang. “We’ve seen them and know what they can do.”
There were four All-America categories – punting, kicking, long-snapping and kickoff specialist. The last category is believed to be the first of its kind in receiving All-America postseason recognition.
“There are a lot of facets to special teams and we feel like this is an important one that sometimes gets overlooked when it comes to being recognized as the best,” Sang said.
Selecting the first All-America team with the Ray Guy Prokicker.com brand was something that Sang wanted to make sure was done as accurately and fairly as possible. Prokicker.com rankings and ratings weighed into the selection process but only because that meant staff members had either worked with or watched these honorees perform.
“We’re proud of what these young men have accomplished for their high school teams and look for each one of them to play at the college level,” Sang said.
Eight different states were represented: Georgia (two), Texas (two), Florida (two), Kentucky, Virginia (two), Arizona, South Carolina and Arkansas.
Among the first-, second- and third-team selections three players – kickers Harrison Butker, Nick Tankersley and Patrick Sohrt – were selected as Ray Guy Prokicker.com All-Americans in two different categories.
Butker, a combo kicker for The Westminster Schools near Atlanta, was the first-team All-America kicker and third-team punter.
Sohrt, the left-footed kicker from St. Joseph High School in Victoria, Tex., was a second-team All-America selection as both a punter and kickoff specialist.
Tankersley, who helped Manatee High School capture the Florida Class 7A championship, was the second-team kicker and the third-team kickoff specialist. He was 18 of 26 on field goals and 68 of his 100 kickoffs went for touchbacks.
Ray Guy, the former All-Pro punter for the Oakland Raiders who is considered the greatest punter in NFL history, was proud to lend his name to the inaugural Ray Guy Prokicker.com High School All-Americans.
“These young men have proven that they’re the best of the best,” Guy said. “I’ve seen many of them personally in camps and know the work ethic that goes with being a great kicker or punter. These guys have that something special, that ‘it’ factor, that separates them from the pack. This is just a steppingstone for many of them. We look for them to do great things at the next level.”
First-team selections were:
PUNTER: Thomas Meadows (6-0, 170, senior), Goochland, Va., Goochland High School, Purdue commit. Averaged 41.2 yards per punt for Goochland High School, the Division II Class A state runner-up. He had 13 punts inside the 20 and allowed only 14 return yards. He was first-team district, first-team region, All-Metro and participated in the Chesapeake Bowl where he punted five times for a 46-yard average.
Meadows credits his early experience with Prokicker.com into making him a top-notch punter.
“They really teach the techniques,” Meadows said. “I took a different approach than most kids my age did. Most kids my age went out and kicked the ball. I wanted to learn how to do it the right way. I wanted to establish my form. In my opinion, and in Rick Sang’s opinion, I’ve got some of the best form of anybody my age.”
Meadows will compete for the punting, kickoff and placekicking jobs when he gets to Purdue this summer.
“It depends on how I do in the offseason but I could be doing all three (for Purdue in the fall).”
KICKER: Harrison Butker (6-3, 170, junior), Atlanta, Ga., Westminster. All-State First Team in Class AA Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia Sports Writers Association; All Metro, all classification, in Atlanta/South Fulton area; participated in Georgia Junior Bowl.
Butker made 16 of 17 field goals with only miss coming from 59 yards. Butker connected on a 51-yard field goal. He also had touchbacks on 47 of 59 kickoffs (80 percent) and also punted for a 39.5 average on 33 punts. Four of them were more than 50 yards with six downed inside the opponent’s 20.
“It was an incredible season,” Butker said. “A lot of credit goes to the (long)-snappers and holders. I was lucky to have a kicking coach (Joe Sturniolo) and a head coach (Gerry Romberg) who liked to kick.”
KICKOFF SPECIALIST: Zach Burgy-VanHoose (6-1, 214, senior), Pikeville, Ky., Pikeville High School. Led high school team to Class A state semifinals by booming 85 percent of kickoffs for touchbacks. Kicker for Kentucky in Border Bowl against Tennessee and was selected as kicker on the WMYT All-Mountain Team.
“It definitely is great to be able to end the high school season with that award. It makes you feel good; makes you feel like all the hard work is finally paying off.”
LONG-SNAPPER: Rey Higuera (5-11, 225, senior), Gilbert, Ariz., Perry High School. Arizona All-State 5A Division II first-team; All-Region, All-Section first team; snapped in Semper Fidelis Bowl; Prokicker.com national champion long-snapper for 2011.
“I’ve been long-snapping since I was a sophomore but I didn’t start getting competitive in it until the end of my junior year,” Higuera said. “Our team had a guy who was long-snapping and getting fairly good. We had heard about a coach (Ben Bernard) in Phoenix (Arizona Elite Long Snapping in North Phoenix) who turned out a lot of Division I long-snappers. I really enjoyed playing football but was not the most athletically gifted person. I had to work to get where I am.”
Second-team selections were:
PUNTER/KICKOFF SPECIALIST: Patrick Sohrt (6-2, 205, senior), Victoria, Tex., St. Joseph High School. Sohrt did a little bit of everything for his team in the kicking department but excelled on punt and kickoffs.
“I actually think my punting got better from last year. We had a 1-9 season, so we did punt a lot,” Sohrt said.
Despite St. Joseph’s record, Sohrt was named a first-team All-State punter. “I’d like to do punting and kickoffs (in college) but I’ll do whatever they ask me to do. I just want the chance.”
KICKER: Nick Tankersley (6-1, 165, senior), Bradenton, Fla., Manatee High School. Tankersley had a huge season for Florida 7A state champion Manatee High School, which finished 13-2. “When you play that many games, it’s good experience and good exposure.” Tankersley made 18 of 26 field goals with a long of 53 yards, a school record. Four of his misses were from 50-plus yards. He also had 68 touchbacks on 100 kickoffs and punted 39 times for a net average of 37.18. He allowed only 28 punt return yards.
“He can do all of it (in the kicking game),” said Manatee assistant coach Dennis Stallard. “He’s probably more natural kicker/kickoff guy. He taught himself through what he learned at Prokicker.com camps. It’s not a natural motion for a kid with a soccer background.”
LONG-SNAPPER: Ike Powell (6-3, 240, sophomore), Tifton, Ga., Tift County High School. Powell was the Ray Guy Prokicker.com National Championship runner-up for 2011 and was the national winner in the underclassman division. He was All-Area in a four-county area. Powell is also the youngest Prokicker.com All-American selection and the top-ranked player in his class at long-snapper.
Here’s what Jacob Claycomb, a Prokicker.com staff member, said about Powell:
“Ike has always been really gifted. You can tell he works hard at it. He has his own target in the back yard. Most kids don’t know their exact score before you tell him. Ike threw the last ball and said ‘Oh, man, 24 points.’ He had a running clock in his head. Ike’s pretty much the whole package. He’s probably one of the better long-snappers I’ve had come through the camps. He’s such a hard worker.
During the national championships his fastest snap was .77 and his average was .83.
Third-team selections were:
PUNTER (tie): Mitchell Ludwig (6-0, 170, junior), Abingdon, Va., Abingdon High School. First-team district and regional punter, second-team kicker; Virginia preps.com AA First-Team All-State Punter and Virginia Preps.com AA underclassmen First Team All-State Punter; set five school kicking and punting records; one state of Virginia record submitted (single game six punts for 50.33 yard average).
Harrison Butker (6-3, 170, junior), Atlanta, Ga., Westminster (See information above).
KICKER: Houston Ray (5-11, 170, junior), Van Buren, Ark., Van Buren High School.
KICKOFF SPECIALIST (tie): Sean Covington (6-1, 175, junior), St. Petersburg, Fla., St. Petersburg High School; Nick Tankersley (6-1, 165, senior), Bradenton, Fla., Manatee High School.
LONG-SNAPPER (tie): Mike Sulka (6-4, 240, senior), Bluffton, S.C., Bluffton High School; Fred McClimans (6-0, 205, senior), Flower Mound, Tex., Flower Mound High School.
Nick Bartolotta, Fox High School (Mo.), class of 2012
Sean Covington, St. Petersburg High School (Fla.), class of 2013
Andy Ellington, Winfield High School (W.Va.), class of 2012
Pedro Ramello, Fishers High School (Ind.), class of 2012
Austin Jordan, Airport High School (S.C.), class of 2012
Trent Domingue, St. Paul’s School (La.), class of 2012
Alex Barta, Clarkston High School (Mich.), class of 2012
Cliff Hurst, Centreville Academy (La.), class of 2012
Brian Bostrom, Kings Academy (Calif.), class of 2012
Mark Grant, Mosley High School (Fla.), class of 2012
Ryan Frain, Scecina Memorial High School (Ind.), class of 2012
Harrison Butker, Westminster Schools (Ga.), class of 2013
Nick Bartolotta, Fox High School (Mo.), class of 2012
Carson Greifenkamp, Murray High School (Ky.), class of 2012
Chris Fitzpatrick, Anderson County High School (Ky.), class of 2012
Leonard Skubal, St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) High School, class of 2012
Chad Leonard, Queens Creek High School (Ariz.), class of 2012
Travis Taulbee, Montgomery County High School (Ky.), class of 2012
Zack Hirth, Eureka High School (Mo.), class of 2012
Nick Walter, Pickerington Central (Ohio) High School, class of 2013
Billy Oldach, The Rivers School (Ma.), class of 2012
Brent Becenti, Ganado High School (Ariz.), class of 2012
Long Distance Field Goal HS: Nick Bartolotta, 50 yards
Long Distance Kickoff: Nick Bartolotta, 69 yards
Hang Time Punt: Griffin Bins, 4.53
Fastest Single Snap: Zach Hirth
Most Accurate Snapper: Zach Hirth, 18 of 30
Nathan Propst, long-snapper, 2012
Zach Hirth, long-snapper, 2012
Nick Bartolotta, kicker, 2012
Long Distance Field Goal High School: Alejandro Dominguez, 50 yards
Long Distance Field Goal Middle School: Jesse Barnes, 42 yards
Long Distance Kickoff: Michael Mesh, 67 yards
Hang Time Punt: Cameron Owens, 4.2
Out of Bounds Punt: Josh Wondra
Fastest Single Snap: Wilson Alexander, .80
Most Accurate Snapper: Kendall Schmitt, 13 of 30
Wilson Alexander, long-snapper, 2012
Ryan Ahlgren, kicker, 2013
A.J. Brown, kicker, 2012
Lucas Guifoil, kicker, 2012
Michael Mesh, kicker, 2013
SEATTLE – Competition results from the Ray Guy Prokicker.com camp in the Seattle area.
Long Distance Field Goal HS: Chavo Camargo, 45 yards
Long Distance Kickoff: Trevor Merritt, 68 yards
Hang Time Punt: Nathan Suyematsu, 4.51
Out of Bounds Punt Right: Tyler Gilmore
Out of Bounds Punt Left: Matt Longnecker
Fastest Single Snap: Wesley Rosotomily, 0.78
Most Accurate Snapper: Wesley Rostomily, 15 of 30