If you build it, they will come. That's what Ray Kinsella told me once. Les Miles said it too, about his erector set, referring to Australian kickers. I still don't understand it, but I guess it worked. Most coaches spend hour upon hour, year after year, developing a pipeline into a potential powerhouse high school or even a recruit-saturated region. If you are Oregon recruiting in South Florida, even one success story is an instant recruiting pitch for the next decade.
For Les Miles a regional, hell even a national, recruiting pipeline simply isn't enough. He wants to go international. He wants to go Australian. While other coaches are busy managing the clock and developing their quarterbacks, Les is laying the groundwork for an international kicker recruiting pipeline the world has never seen. You are two steps behind Saban, two steps behind.
After the jump, I share Les Miles' erector set blueprints.
In 2011, Brad Wing became a cult hero. One swagtastic scamper to the end zone (WHO CARES IF THE SCOREBOARD SAYS IT NEVER HAPPENED) moved him firmly into the hearts of Tigers fans everywhere. LSU was so bad ass, even our punter had swag. Top that... anyone. The scamper may be his most "memorable" play, but punt after punt, stalled possession after stalled possession, Wing consistently and dramatically put LSU into outstanding field position, booming kicks so effortlessly it became habit. If Wing "only" booted one 50 yards, the question would fly around the bar, "What's gotten into Wing tonight?! He's struggling." A Brad Wing Shank is more commonly known as a sexual position than something that happens on a football field.
The whole thing seems like a fairytale, right? LSU has an Australian punter that can wallop the shit out of the football with deadly accuracy? It's clearly a Disney Movie waiting to happen. Until it happens again.
Enter, Jamie Keehn, LSU punter recruit 2012. Keehn isn't your average recruit. First of all, he's a 23-year-old freshman (two years old than Wing). He hails from Miner's Rest, Australia. In high school, he threw javelin and rowed. He has not played football in any game setting (as far as I can tell). He attended Prokick Academy, where he honed his punting ability. He can boom it. See tape, no. 1 for evidence:
Prokick Australia, Jamie Keehn Punter signs at LSU March 18 (via ProkickAustralia)
So really, that's all we can and will know about him. I imagine he's due for a redshirt this season, due to the presence of the Winged one. Keehn is a punter. Les has double-dipped in the past (Josh Jasper comes to mind), but Keehn looks set up to be the punter of the future, unless Les is looking to employ an All-Australian kicking specialist in 2013. I wouldn't put it past him.
As I noted regarding Reid Ferguson, Miles is not only unafraid to spend scholarships on specialists, he invests in them. While other coaches are often lauded for their attention to special teams (Meyer, Beamer), the extent to which Miles dedicates special teams preparation cannot be undervalued. As Poseur often notes, we are typically the victor in hidden yardage. If there's one narrative which may support that Miles is an overly-conservative ground and pound totalitarian, it's the insistence of the quality of the kicking game, both punting and on field goals.
It's impossible to predict a punter, so I won't bother saying high-end, low-end, blah blah. From the two minutes of tape, Keehn quite obviously has a leg. Can he do it in full pads? Can he do it with speedy sprinters bearing down on him? Can he do it in the 4th quarter, with the game on the line? Well, that would make him Brad Wing.
Jamie Keehn is the second pipe. Brad Wing is the first. Perhaps Les Miles is tapping into a unknown and ingenious talent pool. It certainly wouldn't be the most unconventional thing he's ever done.
Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!