We’ve seen the Allstate commercials: No one notices the kicker until he makes the game-winning kick (or miss), and if it’s tough for kickers to get a little love, it’s even more difficult for punters. Former Colorado punter/kicker Zach Grossnickle isn’t looking for attention; the fifth-year senior just wants to get back on the field, and he’s hoping to do so with a different Pac-12 football team this fall.
Grossnickle confirmed to Boulder’s Daily Camera that he’s planning to play his final year of eligibility for the Washington Huskies. (UW told 247Sports the university could not comment until a player is enrolled.)
He joins a crowded pool of punters and kickers in Seattle. Returning senior Travis Coons did it all for the Huskies in 2012: punts, kickoffs, field goals and extra point attempts. He made 9-of-14 field goal attempts and all 39 extra points.
Rising sophomore punter Korey Durkee had fifteen punts in three games as a true freshman, but Coons out-punted him to become the Pac-12’s only triple-threat kicker. True freshman Cameron Van Winkle holds the Washington state prep record with 39 career field goals. He enrolled early to compete with Coons during spring workouts, and the coaches were particularly impressed with his kickoffs.
So where, exactly, does Grossnickle fit in?
He was the top kicker from the state of Colorado out of high school, and Scout.com ranked him the No. 10 kicker in the country, but he was only offered scholarships by the Buffs and Kansas.
As a redshirt freshman in 2010, Grossnickle became Colorado’s full-time punter, averaging 39.5 yards per punt — the second-best freshman average in school history, according to his bio on the CU athletics website.
After Jon Embree became the Buffs’ head coach in 2011, Grossnickle lost his job to then-freshman Darragh O’Neill. He handled kickoffs in nine games but, according to the Daily Camera report, was told there would be no place for him on the roster moving forward.
With the other players who are currently competing for playing time at UW, there’s no guarantee that there’ll be a place for him on the field with the Huskies in 2013, either.
“As always, nothing is certain until I get to Seattle and show them what I can do,” Grossnickle said in an email to the Daily Camera, but at least there’s a chance, which was more than he’d have in Boulder this year.
If Grossnickle and Van Winkle can both work their way into the lineup, the Huskies could go from having one player handle all the kicking to having a punter, a placekicker, and a kickoff specialist this season. Coons shouldered the responsibility for all three roles fairly well in 2012, but spreading those duties around between three sets of legs should only make the Huskies’ special teams more effective this year.