One bright spot for a one win 2012 Vandal football team was the special teams unit. Punter Bobby Cowan pinned opposing teams deep in their own territory and kicker Trey Farquhar consistently put points on the board for the Vandals.
With the kicking duo out of eligibility in 2013, the Vandals had to completely revamp the special teams unit. And they replaced those two Idaho greats with one true freshman — Austin Rehkow.
Instead of having a drop-off at the positions, Rehkow is already showing that he might be better than both Cowan and Farquhar, just six games into his college career.
But how can a true freshman from Veradale, Wash., be better than Lou Groza Award semifinalist and five-place kicking record holder Farquhar and Ray Guy Award semifinalist and five-place punting record holder Cowan? For starters, Rehkow is learning from one of his predecessors. Cowan helps coach Rehkow on punts in practice. But Rehkow brought a lot of natural ability with him from high school.
Rehkow made national news in high school when he booted a field goal from 67 yards out to send his team into overtime where they would later win the game. His monster kick was just one yard short of the national high school record and the longest ever in the state of Washington. It was also four yards longer than the longest field goal in the NFL. On top of that, Rehkow was an all-league punter in the Greater Spokane League with an average of 48 yards per punt during his senior year.
Rehkow is also turning heads at the college level just six games into his collegiate-career. The freshman earned Player of the Week honors from FBS Independents and College Football Performance Awards, after he made four of five field goal attempts in Idaho’s Sept. 28 Homecoming win over Temple. The only field goal he missed was from 50 yards. Rehkow was also named one of the Lou Groza Stars of the Week after his performance.
A week later, the Vandals were blown out by Fresno State — but none of it was Rehkow’s fault. He booted 51.1 yards per punt on seven punts in the game. His long was 58 yards. Rehkow’s performance earned him the Ray Guy Award National Punter of the Week.
Rehkow’s current season average of 47.5 yards per punt is 4.5 yards longer than Cowan’s freshman year average. Not to mention, Cowan redshirted while Rehkow is playing as a true freshman.
On the kicking side, Rehkow already has eight touchbacks while Farquhar only had two his whole freshman year. While some of that can be contributed to closer kickoff positioning, Rehkow is still on pace to boot eight times more touchbacks than Farquhar did his freshman season.
Rehkow is only 5-10 on field goals while Farquhar went 10-15 his freshman season but Rehkow was kicking 80 percent on his last five field goals.
There is no doubt Cowan and Farquhar were great players at Idaho but two holes have been filled by one player in Rehkow. It’s still early in Rehkow’s career but it’s not a bad start for a player who has already received weekly honors from collegiate punting and kicking’s most prestigious award organizations.
Stephan Wiebe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org