Big 12 Campus Correspondent
No football coach looks forward to sending his punting unit onto the field on fourth down. However, when Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads calls his punter’s name, he has a consolation. Rhoads knows he is not sending just any punter onto the field to kick the ball away; he’s sending a weapon in senior Kirby Van Der Kamp
“We score more points when we have shorter fields on offense, we allow less points when we have longer fields as a defense,” Rhoads said. “Having someone like Kirby who can pin teams inside the 20-yard line certainly is a great weapon.”
Van Der Kamp has established himself as one of the premier punters in college football, garnering preseason All-America honors from Athlon’s, Phil Steele and SI.com. His career punting average of 42.8 yards per punt is the second-best total in school history.
Having a strong leg is not the only reason that the senior from West Des Moines, Iowa excels, however. With precision and a technically-sound form, Van Der Kamp has become a master at pinning opponents deep inside their own territory. He has pinned opponents inside their own 20-yard line 76 times in his career, including 29 times in 2012. Rhoads attributes much of the success to Van Der Kamp’s tireless work ethic and dedication.
“He studies his craft,” Rhoads said. “He understands the weather, he understands the wind, he understands the yard line. He understands different types of punts to allow him to do what he needs to do.”
Van Der Kamp explained that, as a punter, much of your learning has to be done on your own. He said that the hours of film study are what make all the difference.
“I study other punters to see what works for them,” Van Der Kamp said. “You watch the guys in the pros who have been there and you look at their form. You can take what you want from that. If you don’t have the right technique you’re going to struggle a lot, so I watch every kick I have every day. I just look at the little things and figure out how to correct my form a little bit. It’s all really technical.”
Part of what makes Van Der Kamp’s statistics so impressive is that so many of his kicks come in Jack Trice Stadium. Iowa State’s home stadium is known for causing headaches for kickers because of the way the wind swirls on the field.
“A lot of kickers are mental cases when it comes to wind,” Van Der Kamp said. “Every day when I walk out the door I check how windy it is, and in Ames it’s always windy, so I just don’t expect anything less. I just try to be very aware of my position on the field and where the wind is because I have to play it right. Jack Trice is a hard place to punt because you can walk five yards and the wind will change direction.”
It is not only on the field that Van Der Kamp’s efforts have been noticed. He was also a nominee for the 2013 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, as well as being voted a captain by his teammates this year.
“I like doing off the field-type stuff like going to the hospital on Fridays before home games and working with kids,” Van Der Kamp said. “It’s just giving back to the community because they have done so much for us and for the program, and I just love doing those type of things.”