UK commit knows how to kick in harsh conditions

Published 3:30 pm Monday, July 10, 2023


Contributing columnist

If you are a high school kicker/punter in Montana, less than ideal weather conditions are the norm.

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“I had to shovel the (football) field last winter to kick multiple times,” said Jacob Kauwe, a recent University of Kentucky commit from Billings, Mont. “School got cancelled one time when we had a negative 55 wind chill. It’s a different beast out here but it does really prepare you to kick in harsh conditions.”

Kauwe didn’t shovel any entire football field but just clearing out spots where he wanted to kick from was difficult enough that he needed help.

“I brought my mom out a few times with me. We took a couple of shovels and just started digging. I had picked my spots out before that I wanted to kick from to get my reps,” the UK commit said. “Shoveling was a nice warmup before I kicked and I was lucky my mom came with me to help.”

Kauwe obviously is looking forward to kicking and competing in the Southeastern Conference. He could be the first athlete from Montana on scholarship in any sport at UK but that did not surprise him.

He went to Kohl’s Kicking Camp and got on the “radar” of college coaches. He said UK special teams coach Jay Boulware and along with special teams quality control coach Mike Priefer liked his camp film more than anyone else’s film.

“They went through every kick I made in high school and in Kohl’s competition,” Kauwe said. “Coach Boulware made a special trip out and watched a workout. He did an evaluation on site and said, ‘We love you and think you are special.’ That’s when we set up an official visit because he made it clear I was his dude and he believed in me.”

Kauwe liked the plan Boulware and Priefer laid out for him to get better and conveyed that to his parents in their first conversation. He hit 80-yard kickoffs at Kohl’s Kicking Camp and also had a 70-yard punt with 4.4 second hang time.

“It’s about me getting more consistent. There are so many technical things to work on to max my craft so I can be the greatest kicker I possibly can be,” Kauwe said. “There are always new levels to reach.”

Like many kickers, he has a soccer background but he says kicking a soccer ball and a football are really different.

“I had to fight off a lot of older soccer habits. It was more of a transition to kicking the football than I thought. But I’ve been kicking now since eighth grade,” Kauwe said.

He calls himself a “kicker at heart” but is more than willing to also compete for the punting job at Kentucky if he’s good enough in the future.

“I am a kicker who can put. That is what made Kentucky so interested in me,” Kauwe said. “I talked to Florida, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Oregon State and TCU and they were almost all looking at me as a punter who can kick. But I really love kicking.”

He admits Kentucky was not on his radar when Boulware first reached out to him.

“I knew a little about Kentucky basketball and I knew (former UK quarterback) Will Levis and that he put weird things in his coffee,” Kauwe said. “But I did my research.”

Kauwe is not a Montana cowboy-type.

“I have friends who spend time hunting elk and going to rodeos,” Kauwe said. “I grew up in Utah and Iowa. I am not a true Montanan. We moved here in sixth grade. But I won’t roll into Kentucky with a cowboy hat and boots.”