By Tom Hackett
Mitch Wishnowsky has had a phenomenal first year with the University of Utah football team. Thus far he has received the Ray Guy Award (given to the nation’s top punter) as well as 11/12 First Team All-American honors; including the Associated Press, Football Writers Association of America, Sporting News and the Walter Camp Football Foundation. He is currently a ‘consensus’ All-American and he is waiting to hear whether he will become the 2nd Ute to become a ‘unanimous’ All-American. A feat only held by another Australian punter…How did Wishnowsky achieve such honors you may ask yourself?
His journey started whilst playing a game of recreational flag football with his mates back in his hometown of Gosnells, Western Australia. Where he was approached and recommended to join an academy named ProKick Australia. He anxiously decided to travel to Melbourne, Victoria (on the other side of Australia) to join ProKick Australia and pursue his recent dream of playing American Football. This decision was aided through his loathing and hatred of his (then) current job, a glazier. A glazier is defined as “a skilled tradesman responsible for cutting, installing and removing glass”, no wonder punting sounded so enthralling to the young man.
His journey through ProKick Australia was smooth; he excelled at his art and maintained the ability to ‘perfect’ his craft. Punting is no joke; believe it or not, to learn and to master the art requires hundreds of hours work. I like to tell people punting is a skillset that is easy to accomplish, impossible to master. Wishnowsky did everything in his power to get as close to perfection as he could and was rewarded with a spot on the Santa Barbara Community College football team. The reason behind his decision to attend Junior College is simply due to his education, he left high school to pursue his old dream of becoming a glazier at the age of 16.
What makes Wishnowsky such a dominant weapon is his power, unlike me, Mitch has an uncanny ability to hit the ball much harder than most punters. His strengths do not lie with his accuracy, as Utah fans have realized throughout the course of this year; he does not put the ball directly on the sideline. Instead, he chooses the most direct route, high and long. He does, however, have a great skillset in downing the ball inside the 10; this season he leads the nation in that category (14) which somewhat contradicts what I previously mentioned regarding his accuracy. Wishnowsky is an inspiration to all punters, punters such as myself are also very jealous of his ability. I concede defeat when asked who is the stronger and more powerful punter; however, I back myself to the hills and back when it comes to direction and accuracy. We have very similar, yet very different punting styles, it has been a treat to sit in the stands this season and watch some of the finer punting week in and week out.
Credit to Wishnowsky and the Utah coaching staff, in particular, Coach Whittingham for putting together a scheme that looks simply unbeatable.
Hot take: Mitch is going to ‘one up’ me, and go down as the greatest College Football Punter of all time. Watch this space…
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