With five seconds left in the 2012 Apple Cup, Travis Coons shanked a 35-yard field goal wide right. It was his fifth miss of 14 attempts on the season. More so, it could have been the last kick he attempts as a Husky.
Prized freshman kicker Cameron Van Winkle stepped on campus during spring practice and immediately made a good first impression. He made six-of-eight field goals in his first spring practice, missing only his first two attempts.
With the mediocrity that was Coons kicking last season and the hype behind Van Winkle’s right leg, Steve Sarkisian and his staff will have a difficult decision to make after Fall Practice. Will the incumbent, Coons, perform well enough to retain his role of last season or can the freshman from Mount Si impress the coaching staff enough to earn himself an immediate role?
With so many returning starters from a year ago, there aren’t many position battles to watch, so the spotlight should shine on the two kickers.
Van Winkle has been regarded as one of the top-5 incoming kickers in the nation. He holds the state high school record for field goals made in both a single season (18) and a career (39).
Coons didn’t even attempt a field goal from beyond 50 yards, let alone make one, and he was just four-of-seven beyond 40 yards. Of course, Husky fans remember what he did from 35 yards. Van Winkle, on the other hand, is known for knocking down field goals of 55 and beyond.
High pressure situations shouldn’t be an issue for him, either.
“I love the adrenaline,” he told Mason Kelley before the 2012 season. “I thrive on it. I love pressure. It gets to some people but, when there are eyes on me, it seems like my kicks are much better.”
Don’t expect greatness to start, but Van Winkle has the opportunity to kick for all four years at UW and go down as one of the best. If nothing else, the competition to kick the first field goal in new Husky Stadium’s history should be one to watch during Fall Practice.