Oregon's 6-Star punter is having a better Christmas break than you
Tyler Kinsman once had a dream of playing DIII. Now, he's an Oregon Duck.
It’s 11 a.m. on Thursday and Tyler Kinsman is telling me he’s doing, quote, “top-tier.”
“How could I not be?” says the punter who signed with Oregon on Wednesday as a preferred walk-on. “It’s the day after signing day. Christmas Day is in a few days. There’s nothing like it.”
To be sure, this tier is quite beyond any of the expectations of the Skyview High School senior who once thought he had hatched the perfect plan for Division III stardom. See, before Kinsman was a six-star punter (more on that later) he was just a soccer player from Nampa, Idaho. He played his entire life, loved it and, to be honest, got a little burned out on the sport. He figured he’d attend George Fox University — his dad’s job at Northwest Nazarene University would have netted him free tuition — and maybe see if he kicking that soccer ball all those years could get him somewhere.
“Both of my sisters went to private Christian colleges and didn’t play sports,” Kinsman says, “So, you know, I was going to step outside the box a little bit and play football.”
The first time he kicked a ball was two years ago for a school competition at a pep rally. He made solid connection. It helped, too, that Kinsman is 6-foot-5, 225-pounds and has a right leg that swings like Paul Bunyan’s ax.
Soon Kinsman was playing on the high school team, attending camps and shooting up the national rankings. Last May, he attended a Chris Sailer kicking camp in Las Vegas.
“At that point I hadn’t thought about D1 at all. I’d never heard from any coaches. I had never reached out. Nothing,” he says.
That changed after camp.
Coaches started calling. Big coaches. Oregon-type coaches. The type that made a family that was pretty set on their son attending a small school have to start reevaluating their vision.
“My dad was hesitant about DI for the lifestyle and parties and some of the parts of bigger college life,” Kinsman says. “But Oregon completely changed all of that. For him, all those worries went away. I’m a Christian and a lot of the staff are Christians. The team chaplain is a former NFL punter, which is perfect, so Oregon was the first school that really turned my dad’s head from DIII to DI.”
Kinsman may have the leg to go even further than that.
“Tyler is one of the most talented high school kicking and punting prospects in America,” writes Sailer in his evaluation. “Tyler does an outstanding job on field goal. He hits a clean, accurate ball off the ground and easily has 55+ yard range. His kickoffs are strong, D1 ready. Tyler drives the ball into the end zone with 4.0+ hang time. Tyler is also a phenomenal punting prospect. He has an ideal frame for a D1 punter. Tyler averages 45+ yards, with 4.8+ hang time. His best ball measures 60+ yards, with 5.0+ hang time. A competitor who thrives under pressure. Tyler has all the tools to be a game changer at the next level.”
Of course, considering Kinsman says the length of his kicking career so far can be described in “baby age, 26 months,” there’s a lot of room to grow, too. And that’s what intrigues Kinsman at the moment. It’s not like he was a die-hard fan of punters growing up, but over the last two years he’s found there’s far more intricacies to the position than he ever would have imagined.
“Two years ago I would have said that sounded horrible,” he says. “But the better you get at something, naturally the more you like it. I’ve only been doing it for two years. I’ve only received eight sessions of private kicking lessons. Seeing where I’m at with how little coaching i’ve received, it gives me so much excitement for college. I know I’m going to progress. I’m going to get better. I’m already a good punter, and with four or five years of development I love to think of my potential.”
So, about the six-star thing. Sailer’s camp gives out a one through six ranking, with six stars given to players who are projected as “FBS Power 5 Freshman Year Starters, Scholarship Pick.” It’s an undeniably good distinction to have, but one that can run a bit confusing on national signing day when butting up against the traditional five-star system employed by non-specialists.
And Twitter trolls.
“Could Chris Sailer change his system and just knock everyone down a star? Absolutely,” Kinsman says. “But, you know, I think being a six-star is just kind of fun.”
— Tyson Alger, The I-5 Corridor
Need a last minute Christmas gift? Let us help you out of a bind. Free shipping!
The I-5 Corridor is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.