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July 7, 2013

WSU picks up versatile kicker

Washington State was in the market for a kicker in this recruiting cycle and on Sunday night the Cougars picked up their eighth verbal commitment in the 2014 class in the form of a talented place kicker from California.

Tristan Vizcaino, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound kicker and punter, ended weeks of speculation by officially committing to the Washington State staff.

"It feels good to be committed and it's a big relief," Tristan said in a phone interview shortly after becoming the Cougars' latest verbal commitment. "It's nice to be done with the recruiting process and know that I'm going to be a Cougar.

"I knew I wanted to stay in the Pac-12. Coming from California and growing up watching schools like USC, I knew I wanted to stay close to home and Pac-12 was ideal for me. The size of the school and the importance that they put on football at Washington State really fell in line with what I wanted to get out of my college experience."

In addition to Washington State, Vizcaino held an offer from Nevada and was hearing from several other schools.

The Chino Hills (Calif.) Damien prospect opened the eyes of the coaching staff during the Cougars' camp last month and an offer from coach Eric Russell followed just a week later. The Washington State offer immediately appealed for several reasons and, after taking some time to talk it over with his family, he pulled the trigger.

"I had an idea after they offered me that I wanted to be at Washington State," Vizcaino said. "I was close to committing on the spot because they were the best offer I had and not only that, I was really interested in the University after touring the campus.

"My parents and I decided that we wanted to take some time and really contemplate the decision to make sure that I was making the right decision because it's the next four years of my life. We came to the conclusion and we, as a family, knew that I wanted to be at Washington State."

As a junior at Damien last season, Vizcaino was 5-of-6 field goals and, in addition to a career long of 57-yards in a game, he has reportedly nailed a 63-yard field goal during a camp. He also converted 34-of-37 touchback opportunities on kickoff duty last year. His goal heading into his senior season, however, is to be perfect on his kicks and continue to be consistent.

Right off the bat, his kicking highlights jump out at you, but he is also an accomplished punter and the coaching staff thinks that he could handle kicking, kickoff and punting duties eventually.

With current kickers Michael Bowlin and Andrew Furney expected to graduate following the 2013 season, there will be an opportunity for Vizcaino to make an immediate impact his first year on campus.

"The plan as of now is for me to definitely be punting and kicking off my freshman year, if not doing all three," Vizcaino said. "I'm definitely in for the challenge of doing all three and it's an exciting thing coming in knowing I could have the chance to be on the field handling all of the kicking duties."

According to Chris Sailer, his kicking coach at Chris Sailer Kicking, Vizcaino already has a Division I leg and the accolades to prove it.

"Tristan is a talented kicker," Sailor said on his website. "He has a huge leg and hits a great ball off the ground.

"His best ball is as good as anyone's. Kickoffs are outstanding and already D-1 ready. He's also a big time punting prospect. Tristan is a hard worker who is improving at an exceptional rate and a fine young man with a great work ethic."

Strong words from Sailer, who runs, arguably, the nation's top kicking program for college prospects and, according to Vizcaino, tonight's commitment wouldn't be possible without the tutelage from his highly respected coach.

"Without Chris, I wouldn't be as consistent as I am," Vizcaino said of Sailer and his kicking program. "The main thing he has helped me out with is my consistency and without him I wouldn't have developed all of my techniques.

"He's guided me throughout the entire recruiting process and I'm sure when colleges go looking for kickers, Sailer is the first person they call. I'm sure that was a starting point for Washington State and he's just been a blessing and really helpful."

Although he has not yet been evaluated by Rivals, Sailor ranks Vizcaino as the No. 16 prospect in the 2014 class and he also was named a 2013 Vegas Event Punt Finalist and a 2013 Vegas Spring Event Finalist. According to his profile, the unrated kicking prospect was named to the Top-12 in the program.

"He has as much potential as anyone," Sailer said. "Big time prospect."

Vizcaino joins QB Peyton Bender, DT Marcus Griffin, LB Greg Hoyd, WR Zaire Andre, WR Keith Harrington, WR Calvin Green and CB Kevin Griffin in the 2014 class.

Kickers don't get all the media hype but Vizcaino wants people to know that Washington State is getting more than just a strong leg.

"I'm a unique kicker in that I also play wide receiver and free safety, as well as being one of the captains on my team," Vizcaino described of himself. "Not only are they getting a kicker but they're getting someone that actually understands the game of football and will be a great member of a football team."



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