If it feels like senior Tristan Vizcaino is going through some sort of “Special Teams Kicking Olympics” at the University of Washington, well, he is.
A kickoff guy? He has been the primary man for that role for that the past three seasons.
Punter? Last season, he became the regular, averaging 40.7 yards per punt.
And now, after Cameron Van Winkle and his reliable right foot graduated last spring, Vizcaino is poised to become the field goal and PAT placekicker this season.
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Vizcaino said he’s done enough this preseason camp to show UW coach Chris Petersen he can handle it.
“I think I’ve made some big kicks,” Vizcaino said. “We’re trying to get better every day going through camp. We’re getting cleaner. We’re getting more consistent.”
Vizcaino certainly has big cleats to fill: Van Winkle connected on 81.3 percent of his field goal attempts in his career, making 52 of 64. And Van Winkle’s 327 points are third-most in UW history.
Vizcaino has a bigger leg than Van Winkle, but that means very little to Petersen.
“Cam Van Winkle earned trust around here for four years. I knew we could put that guy in and whether he was going to make it,” Petersen said. “That is one of the things Tristan has to do — he has to earn the trust. He’s got a big leg. But it doesn’t matter how big it is … he needs to be able to make 20-yard field goals, 25-yard field goals. We’ll see how that goes.”
Be around Vizcaino for five minutes, and you’ll notice one thing: He is very confident in his kicking ability, even though he will be giving up the starting punting job to transfer Joel Whitford.
Vizcaino said he will not hesitate to tell Petersen when the UW offense is well within his range for a field goal.
“I will be in his ear. I will let him know that I am ready to go,” Vizcaino said. “Obviously, the final call is up to him.”
What is Vizcaino’s range? Depending on the game situation, he’d like a crack at a 63-yarder, he says.
He noted that his longest field goal in a game came while he was a sophomore at Damien High School in Chino Hills, California, in 2011.
Vizcaino was playing wide receiver on the junior-varsity squad. At the end of the first half, Damien had a chance for a long field goal. Coaches gave the teenager a crack at it from 57 yards out.
The kick went straight and true.
“I think the other team was pretty unhappy that I was kicking in a JV game,” Vizcaino said. “It was a good kick.”
Which is something he hopes to say to himself many times this season.
Of all the true freshmen, Petersen did confirm that running back Salvon Ahmed, tight end Hunter Bryant and defensive backs Brandon McKinney, Elijah Molden and Keith Taylor will play this season. ... Petersen noted he was going to generally play plenty of players in the Sept. 1 opener at Rutgers. “We have a lot of good athletes,” he said. ... As far as next week’s trip to New Jersey, Petersen said the team will visit the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center site in New York City.