Wisconsin’s 2019 walk-on kicker/punter Blake Wilcox is not a short person by any stretch, but when he attended Saturday’s game against Nebraska with some of his fellow commits, the first thing he noticed were just how big some of the offensive linemen were.
“I’m 6’4 and like 220 pounds, but being around all the other recruits and especially all the other college players at Madison, it’s just sort of overwhelming how big some of them are,” Wilcox told B5Q this week. “Beyond that, it’s nice to know they’re not just meat and potato athletes that they actually have a personality to them too, and that they’re really well-rounded people.”
Wilcox took in the sights and sounds of Camp Randall Stadium last Saturday night, joining fellow 2019 commits Graham Mertz, Hayden Rucci, Joe Tippmann, Logan Brown, Leo Chenal and Spencer Lytle in visiting Madison.
“The game on Saturday was a great experience,” Wilcox said. “It was nice to meet a lot of the recruits and be at Camp Randall in a game day environment and see what everything was all about.”
The fall marks a busy time for Wilcox. Along with kicking and punter for Kettle Moraine’s football team, he also plays soccer while balancing his academic duties.
According to the prep standout, a key skillset has helped him not fall behind in his responsibilities.
“The biggest thing that I’ve learned is time management,” Wilcox said. “Whenever I have a minute or two during the day, I’ll start doing homework, or when I get a minute after school. Even if it’s not for very long, those minutes add up and helps me on that front.”
Homework aside, there are also opportunities to see around corners to optimize his efficiency.
“The night before, I’ll throw all my soccer stuff and my football stuff into my car so I don’t have to deal with it each morning,” Wilcox added. [I] just try to stay on top of things with my teachers and my coaches.”
For Wilcox, rated a three-star recruit by 247Sports composite rankings, there is the balance of maintaining the sports from an off-the-field perspective, but he also must adapt from a physical perspective between the two sports as well.
For football, as he explained, kicking revolves around “getting in a lot of repetition and being able to get the same motion over and over again.”
It’s not the same for his other sport, however.
“I also play soccer, and the biggest difference and the biggest challenge for me to overcome is that in soccer, there’s a lot of different kicks whether it be a goal kick—where you try to hit it really far, or a pass where you’re just going 10 yards to your right or left,” Wilcox said.
“The difference in [football] kicking is that you’re trying to get the same exact motion over and over again, whether it’s a 20-yard field goal or a 60-yard field goal. That repetition, and the amount of reps you get in, sort of transfer over to the field during games and just sort of shows. The really good kickers in the NFL, if you watch their form, they do the same thing over and over, again and again, and they don’t change anything.”
Kohl’s Kicking rates Wilcox as a five-star kicker and punter, No. 5 and No. 3 in the nation, respectively. As he explained in retaining that precise motion, the kicking camps have definitely assisted his development and progression on the football field.
“That’s what sort of the kicking camps help you do is they help you get into the reps and they refine your form and stuff like that,” Wilcox said. “They help you with your lift and your distance, and they just help you get better all around.”
A specialist of many trades, Wilcox kicks and punts for Kettle Moraine, which is 4-4 heading into Friday night’s match-up against Oconomowoc. The Lasers also boast another Wisconsin commit in 2020 four-star offensive tackle Trey Wedig, as the specialist said the two developed a relationship not just because of their future college destination but also spending extra time together lifting before school, during the winter and the offseason.
According to the Wisconsin commit, 38 of his 43 kickoffs have been touchbacks (including three onside kicks) while successfully attempting 28-of-29 extra points and 8-of-12 field goals this season.
Three of his field goal misses this season, however, have come from 55-plus yards—two 58-yard attempts plus a 60-yard try. Earlier this year, he reportedly recorded a 51-yard field goal, and last year, he successfully kicked a 59-yard attempt for the Lasers. He is also averaging 44.1 yards per punt.
According to Wilcox, talks with Wisconsin first surfaced during last winter around January and February. Back on June 10, he came to Madison and participated in one of Wisconsin’s specialists camps, earning some all-camp honors in the process.
Just over two weeks later, he tweeted that he received a preferred walk-on offer from Wisconsin special teams quality control coach Taylor Mehlhaff. Then over two months later after that offer was given, he publicly announced that he accepted the opportunity to play at Wisconsin.
“If you ask any high school football player in the state of Wisconsin where they’d play in college, 98 percent of them would say Wisconsin,” Wilcox said. “I’m not different. It is a great schools for academics and athletics. Also, being a Badger is something people are proud to say.”
Currently, Wilcox’s plan is to sign in December during the early signing period then come to Wisconsin after his senior year of high school.
He noted there could be ample opportunities awaiting him in Madison down the road—with a potential to face upperclassmen in the punting and kickoff phases of special teams during his second year in the program. Depending upon how his game evolves, he potentially could receive opportunities to kick field goals during his junior and senior years.
“Coach Mehlhaff thinks I’ll be one of the only guys in the NCAA who could be doing all three by the time I’m a senior, which is kind of crazy.”