November 3, 2012; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Washington State Cougars kicker Andrew Furney (49) attempts a field goal that fell short during the first half against the Utah Utes at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
With a commitment from Tristan Vizcaino last night, Mike Leach and Eric Russell put the virtual money in the bank for their special teams well-being over the next four seasons. Vizcaino will be the kicker and potentially double as a punter for Washington State, spots now held by the senior tandem of Andrew Furney and Michael Bowlin respectively, with junior Wes Concepcion on call. Vizczaino is ranked as a 5/5 prospect, the #16 kicker and #11 punter in his class by world renowned kicking academy Chris Sailer Kicking.
"Tristan is a very talented kicker. He has a huge leg and hits a great ball. Field goals are near the top of his class. Kickoffs are outstanding and he also shows tremendous punting potential. Tristan is a hard worker who is improving at an exceptional rate. I expect big things from Tristan his junior season. Should challenge for a “TOP 12″ spot in Vegas. Great prospect.” -Chris Sailer"
The Cougars don’t often put out an offer to fill the kicker position, with the last accepted offer to a Washington State kicker being nearly a decade ago in 2004, when 2-star prospect Loren Langley out of Puyallup high committed and signed. But with Russell heading up the recruiting efforts as the special teams coordinator (assuming he doesn’t get plucked from Mike Leach’s wing, which happens quite often to the Leach coaching tree), we may see another offer go out in the next 3 or 4 years.
For the foreseeable future though, a big question mark for WSU in 2014 has been answered. The next will be figuring out if Vizcaino can or should double up on duties or if it would be more beneficial to make him a kickoff/field goal specialist and put the punting duties on someone else.
In college you will generally see kids move to specialty roles to keep kickers fresher and to avoid focus issues and the extra injury opportunities that come with booting and covering punts. With the high tempo that Washington State now plays, punters and kickers alike have a shot at being on the field quite a bit, making the potential decision to double-up even riskier. Likely, 2013 walk-on Erik Powell will redshirt and then be the other name you will hear in this discussion. Powell also doubled as a kicker and punter in high school and for what it’s worth ranked as the #56 kicker in the 2013 class.
Nevada held the other offer for Vizcaino and because of his honor roll status in the classroom he was also receiving heavy and increasing interest from several Ivy League schools, making this a great academic pick up for WSU as well. The newest WSU commit has commented that he’s extremely solid and will only be taking an official visit to Pullman this upcoming Fall. He is out of Damien high school in La Verne, CA and is a team captain.