Shady Spring's Houstin Syvertson has been punting since middle school, but it was only over the last couple years that he realized his special teams work might be his best path to college. Syvertson admitted that he was "screwing around" when he began punting for his middle school squad, and it was only on his arrival at Shady Spring that he decided to go at it full bore.
When Syvertson arrived at the high school, he wasn't even sure that he was going to keep punting. As a solid running back and tight end, punting wasn't the highest item on his priority list. But encouragement from his high school coach, followed by attendance at prestigious kicking camps such as Kohl's lit a fire under him to improve.
"My high school coach got me into it more and taugh me a lot, and then the camps have been great," Syvertson told BlueGoldNews.com. "Kohl's Kicking Camps are just great. I've learned so much there, and they've probably helped me more than anyone."
The results have been measurable. Syvertson averaged 42.9 yards per punt last year for Shady Spring, and was ranked as the #13 punter in the nation by both Kohl's and ESPN going into his senior season. He's going back to Kohl's in July as an invitee to their national scholarship camp, putting him on par with some of the top punters in the country.
Closer to home, Syvertson attended West Virginia's kicking camp, headed by Mountaineer alumnus Paul Woodside, last weekend. Syvertson likes the approach Woodside takes.
"He's good, and he's blunt," Syvertson said of the Mountaineer All-American. "He gets the point across quickly. He stresses the metal as well as the technique side of kicking. I definitely learned some things from him."
Syvertson responded to that coaching well, launching punts of 57 and 53 yards during the camp -- and those had plenty of height as well. He also dropped a good directional kick within a few yards of the target at the ten-yard line.
Despite all these achievements, Syvertson is still gliding somewhat under the recruiting radar. Rutgers and Marshall have expressed interest, and with his performance at WVU's camp, the Mountaineer staff is now aware of him as well.
"The coaches told me I did really well, and that they'd be in touch with me," he said. "I'm going up to Rutgers for a camp, too. If West Virginia showed interest in me, I would definitely be very interested with them."
Due to Shady Spring's powerful offense, Syvertson had just nine punts in 2011. He's not necessarily wishing for more chances to punt, because that would mean less success for the Tiger offense, but he does have a goal for the upcoming year.
"I'd like to average 45 yards per punt," he said. "I think I can do better than what I did last year, so that's what I'm shooting for."