Perusing through the USA Today’s Midseason All-American team, I noticed all of the normal top players from power five conferences. Of course, there were a couple of group of five players, Tyler Matakevich (Temple) and Shawun Lurry (NIU), that made the All-American team, but what caught my eye is what I saw on special teams.
K: Austin Rehkow, Idaho.
A kicker from Idaho, a 2-4 program, was the best kicker in the nation in the first half of the 2015 football season? It wasn’t the fact that he was on the All-American list that was a surprise, but the fact that he was the kicker, not punter, of the All-American team.
So I got curious and looked closer at the 6-3, 208 pound junior from Spokane, Washington.
Rehkow has been a very good kicker this fall, having made 11 of 12 field goal attempts on the season. He is 3-3 from inside 20 yards, 3-3 from 20-30 yards, 2-2 from 30-39 yards, 3-3 from 40-49 yards, and 0-1 from 50+ yards. He is tied for eighth nationally with 1.83 field goals per game, touting a 91.7% field goal percentage.
Those numbers are impressive, but there are several kickers with similar numbers. So what makes Rehkow stand out among the others?
The answer becomes quite clear when looking at the entire role he plays for the Vandals. Not only is Rehkow one of the top field goal kickers in the nation, he is also one of the better kickoff specialists and punters in the nation.
Kickoffs have become so important in the current college game that teams are recruiting kickers for nothing but kickoffs. It is becoming rare occurrence for a single kicker handle kickoff duties if he is already handling field goal duties. Not only is Rehkow doing both, he is doing both well. He has kicked off 33 times in six games with 19 of those kickoffs landing in the end zone for touchbacks. His 57.6% touchback rate is an important weapon for the Vandals.
One thing everyone knew about the junior heading into the 2015 season was his ability to punt the football. He led the nation in punting as a freshman with a 47.8 yards per punt average, and followed that up with a 47.8 yards per punt average as a sophomore. Rehkow earned multiple honors for his play as a punter in his first two seasons.
Rehkow currently ranks #21 nationally in punting average with 44.4 yards per punt on the season. Eight of his 27 punts landed inside the 20-yard line with only 13 of his punts being returned at all. While that shouldn’t count for his selection as an All-American kicker, his versatility does come into play.
Whether at kicker or punter, Rehkow is one of the best in the nation and the lone representative of the Sun Belt Conference on the Midseason All-American list.
Idaho currently has two players active in the NFL. If Rehkow, still only a junior, continues at his current production, he will be the third.