More than 250 of the nation's top kickers, punters and long snappers were in Las Vegas two weekends ago to attend the seventh annual Chris Sailer National Kicking and Snapping Spring Event. In the end, four campers stood out.
Winning the field goal competition was Tyler Drees of Anaheim (Calif.) Esperanza. He beat out talented 2010 and 2011 groups with a solid effort throughout the camp.
"Tyler had a great weekend," said Sailer, a former UCLA kicker who is one of the nation's top kicking analysts. "He is very steady on field goals and stepped up in a huge pressure situation. Consistency and dealing with the pressure were the main factors in his win."
A few junior college kickers also emerged, including former highly regarded kicker Billy Bennett, who is looking for a new school after transferring from Boston College. Chris Ewald now is at Oroville (Calif.) Butte Junior College and showed why he's one of the best on the market in the JC ranks.
Olen was the winner of the punting portion of the camp.
"Zach is a great overall kicking/punting prospect," Sailer said. "He is a good-looking athlete with a tremendous leg. Zach won the punting competition because he was more consistent and mentally tough than the rest of the field."
The long-snapping competition was won by Rob Horrell of Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) High.
Recruiter of the Week: Kevin Daft, California
California has a reputation for developing high-quality quarterbacks under the guidance of Jeff Tedford, and getting blue-chip passers to Berkeley is the first step in that process.
Daft helped the Bears reel in one of their biggest commitments in years last week when Austin Hinder, a four-star quarterback from Steamboat Springs (Colo.) High who ranks in the Rivals100, pledged to the Bears shortly after taking an unofficial visit. Offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig and Tedford also played a big role in the process, but Daft's energy and excitement is one thing that helped sell Hinder.
"Coach Daft is awesome," Hinder said. "He gets really excited about Cal, and you can't help but feel the same way after talking to him. When I committed, both he and Coach Ludwig were on the phone hooting and hollering. It's that type of passion that made me want to be a Bear."
Daft also has the Bears in on some of the top prospects in the Los Angeles area, including cornerback Joshua Shaw of Palmdale High and athlete Robert Woods of Gardena Junipero Serra. Shaw and Woods are among the best players in the state and rank among the top players at their positions nationally.
More major offers for Gabbert
Ballwin (Mo.) Parkway West quarterback Tyler Gabbert already has a solid offer list that includes programs such as Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. But his dad says a few new teams are making a push.
"He was offered a scholarship by Oregon and Iowa State last week," Chuck Gabbert said. "Then he was offered by Wake Forest [on Monday] night. We are on vacation in Florida for the week, so the Wake Forest offer is a nice surprise for Tyler."
Most observers think Gabbert's decision will come down to Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska or Kansas, but the offers from the Demon Deacons and the Ducks definitely give him some other programs to strongly consider if he chooses to leave his region.
Elder program good to the Irish
Cincinnati Elder is sending another talented tight end prospect to Notre Dame. In 2008, Notre Dame signed blue-chip tight end Kyle Rudolph from Elder, and he had a solid true freshman season last fall.
Now, current Elder tight end Alex Welch is hoping similar things happen for him. Welch, one of the top tight ends in the Midwest, committed to the Fighting Irish on Monday, picking Notre Dame over an offer from Ohio State. Welch said the combination of growing up following the Irish and being on campus last week helped him to make his decision.
"It's where I belong," he said. "I fit in there better than anywhere else in the country. It was an easy decision after I thought about it more and more and talked things over with my family."
• Tampa (Fla.) Catholic four-star athlete Christian Green has narrowed his list to six schools – Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Tennessee, Ohio State and USF. Green said he hopes to make his decision this summer. Each of those schools except Florida is recruiting him at wide receiver; the Gators are recruiting him as an athlete.
• Not all the news was good for Cal on the recruiting trail the past few days. Defensive tackle Cassius Marsh of Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian said he's opened up his recruitment after previously committing to the Golden Bears. After Marsh's move, the Bears quickly reacted by offering a scholarship to Chino Hills (Calif.) Don Lugo defensive tackle George Uko.
• Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha three-star running back Marcus Coker decided to end the process early, committing to Minnesota on Tuesday. Coker picked the Gophers over offers from Iowa, Kansas State, Maryland and Wake Forest. As a junior, he rushed for 1,174 yards and 19 touchdowns.
• Culver City (Calif.) High three-star linebacker Victor Burnett said he has an offer from Oklahoma. Burnett has become one of California's hottest prospects in the spring evaluation period, picking up major offers from programs such as Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Nebraska, Washington and Washington State.