AMES, Iowa — As a general rule, nobody likes to see their favorite team’s punter step onto the field. That means a drive has stalled, and possession of the football is about to change.
At Iowa State, however, that means Kirby Van Der Kamp gets to do his thing for the Cyclones, which is kick the football far and accurately. In fact, few punters in college football do their job as well as Van Der Kamp, a product of West Des Moines Valley High School now in his senior season at ISU.
Consider Van Der Kamp’s resume:
• In 2010, his first season as a Cyclone, he earned freshman All-America honors with an average of 45.2 yards, 22 punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line and 19 kicks of 50 or more yards. In addition, Van Der Kamp was Iowa State’s Dury Moss Outstanding Newcomer and Jim Doran Outstanding Special Teams Performer.
• As a sophomore, Van Der Kamp averaged 42.7 yards on 68 punts with 21 inside the 20 and 15 of 50 or more yards. He earned honorable mention all-Big 12 where he ranked fourth overall, and he was 29th nationally.
• Last season, Van Der Kamp punted 77 times and averaged 41 yards with 29 inside the 20, just two touchbacks and 10 kicks of 50 yards or more. He earned second-team all-Big 12 recognition, was a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award that is presented to the nation’s top punter and won another Jim Doran Award.
• Heading into 2013, Van Der Kamp is again on the Ray Guy Award watch list, which will honor the best punter in the country. He was named to the preseason all-Big 12 first team and to Athlon’s and Phil Steele’s preseason All-America teams. He’s also an Allstate AFCA Good Works team nominee.
“I’d like to see Kirby punt less, let’s make that very clear,” says ISU head coach Paul Rhoads. “The less punts he has inside the 20 and overall, the better football we’re playing.”
That said, Rhoads appreciates the lanky, 6-4, 211-pound lefty as much as anyone.
“Kirby without a doubt is a weapon for our football team,” notes Rhoads. “I will continue to state that I think he’s the best punter in college football and deserving of being on the Ray Guy Award list and preseason All-America list and so forth.
“We know we can do certain things from about 60 yards away and still have an opportunity to play a long field of defense if we don’t get it done as an offense. But once we cross that 50, we’re thinking first downs and field goal range and so forth.
“We’re certainly not playing for his talents to be put on display.”
Van Der Kamp insists he is still improving and perfecting his craft.
“Last year, I had plenty inside the 20, and I hope to do that again,” he says. “I’m trying to work on those big balls so when I have the open field I really can change the field and give our defense good position to work with.”
As far as being a weapon, Van Der Kamp sees that as his responsibility to his team.
“I just gradually recognized that I can do a lot more for my team and help my team out,” he explains. “Many people don’t look at the kicker or punter as a weapon, and I’ve just tried to step into that role and fill that role.
“I just try to go out there and do my best and do the best I can for this team. It’s helped our defense out tremendously putting them inside the 20. If you look at the odds from where you start on the field, it’s a lot harder to start way back there and go the whole field and score.”
The numbers mean little, at least until the season is over.
“During the season, I don’t look at stats at all,” says Van Der Kamp, who has had just one punt blocked during his college career. “I just go out game by game and put the last game behind me and move on to the next one and see what I can do for my team. I may look (at the stats) at the end, but ultimately what I’m out here to do is not to improve my stats but to give my team the best opportunity every game.”
©2013 Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (Waterloo, Iowa)
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