Croot Loops: K Mick Ellis
With eye on competition, Iowa loaded up at kicker
Editor’s note: This is part one of a multi-post series detailing the 2013 recruiting class of the Iowa Hawkeyes.
The recruitment of Mick Ellis lasted less than a week.
According to HawkeyeReport.com, Iowa offered the Lucas, Texas, native a scholarship on July 2. He committed Monday morning via Twitter.
“They contacted me and said they were looking to bring in a kicker this year and wanted to see if I would be a good fit, kind of like an interview,” Ellis told HawkeyeReport.com. “After we talked for a while, they offered and invited me out on July 26th to come check out the school and meet with the coaches and see the facilities and everything.”
As a junior at Lovejoy High School in Lucas, Ellis earned first team all-state honors after making 13 of 17 field goals with a long of 53. In addition to an offer from Yale, Ellis heard from LSU, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma.
Kickers and punters take a little different road to their scholarships. Those serious about the craft travel the summer camp circuit heavily. Two of the national leaders in this — Chris Sailer Kicking and Kohl’s Kicking — had high marks for Ellis.
The Sailer camp listed Ellis as the No. 4 kicker in the 2014 class. “Mick is simply an outstanding kicker. He has one of the biggest legs in his class and kicks with excellent consistency off the ground. Field goals are D1 ready right now. He is also big on kickoffs. Kicks very well under pressure. A focused and mentally ready kicker. Mick is a fine young man with a great attitude and work ethic.”
Kohl’s Kicking rated Ellis No. 13 for the ’14 class. “Mick attended two Kohl’s Showcase Camps in the spring of 2013, he showed D1 talent at both events, Mick is able to drive KO’s 75 yards (with a tailwind) consistently, his FG’s improved from camp 1 to camp 2, he could get better height on FG and KO’s, if he can do this he could be a top 5 kicker in the nation, very talented, should land at a D1 school.”
Dent the depth chart in '14? -- Probably a yes. Ellis will start camp in August as the No. 2 kicker behind walk-on junior Marshal Koehn. Probably.
If you glommed on to anything during Kirk Ferentz's news conference last week, it probably should be this (at least in regard to kicker/punter/special teams): "It's an area that we think we need healthy competition this spring and this summer," Ferentz said. "We feel like we have a chance to have a good football team this next year. I know we've lost some really good players in that area, so we want to add to the competition."
ESPN scouting snippet --Has the mindset and frame to be a very good kicker. His leg strength is at the FBS level if he can continue to develop his height on field goals and kickoffs and clean up his rotation on field goals. He has the potential to be a top 10 prospect.
Also: Stocky powerful build. He has short, fast levers.
Off-the-top-of-my-head Hawkeye comparison -- Kyle Schlicher.
What Iowa said . . .
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz: "Like in every position, we're going to investigate what we have to do to have the level of competition that we're hoping for. . . . We're going to do what we have to do to create the competition on the practice field we think is necessary."
A little quick background: Iowa assistant Chris White, who's also the special teams coordinator, handled the offers for Ellis and punter Dillon Kidd. White scouted the Sailer and Kohl camps. White begins the conversation, but Ferentz is the one who says there's a spot for a scholarship.
Ferentz remembered the days when teams could get away with having a team of walk-on specialists (he mentioned for Iowa star K Rob Houghtlin, who was a walk-on). Those days are over. Ferentz's first scholarship offer at kicker was Nate Kaeding.
The ideal situation is one kicker, one punter and one long snapper on scholarship. This fall, Iowa will have one kicker (Ellis), two punters (Kidd and Connor Kornbrath) and no long snappers on scholarship. You can live through some overlap with seniors and redshirts (which is how Iowa has tried to do it).
Koehn remains a walk-on. Iowa also will add Mason City kicker Miguel Recinos, who booted a school-record 58-yarder last year. He will walk on. In this Mason City Globe-Gazette post, Recinos said, "Coach (Ferentz) said the job is wide open,” said Recinos, who was 18 of 20 on PATs and had touchbacks on 34 of his 38 kickoffs. “If I can win the job I have the opportunity to get a scholarship as soon as the next semester.”
What I think (FWIW, obviously) . . .
Ferentz isn't kidding around about competition here. Koehn has positioned himself nicely. Late in the season, I talked to departing kicker Mike Meyer about Koehn and he couldn't say enough about his powerful leg. Koehn is an excellent athlete. It sets up to be his job for the next two seasons. But . . . Ellis is on scholarship and that fact comes with pressure to perform. I wouldn't count out Recinos. Iowa and Iowa State wanted him to walk on. When Recinos called Iowa, he called Ferentz.
There were a couple of other walk-ons at kicker last season, including Alden Haffar.
Going off the videos, Ellis' high school, Lovejoy, wasn't afraid to use him when it would've costed field position. Touchbacks also don't seem to be a problem. Meyer had a touchback rate of 44.12 percent last season, fifth in the Big Ten. Nebraska's Mauro Bondi led the conference with 62.34. With kickoffs from the 35, touchbacks are the goal, for the most part.