Evans High School senior Jake Rizner was an all-state punter in 2011 and a 2012 Region 2-AAAAA all-region punter. He can now add Ray Guy/Prokicker.com National Kicking Championship winner to his resume.
Competing in the scholarship division at Bradenton Manatee High School in Bradenton, Fla., Dec. 16, Rizner topped the field of invitees in the two-round competition.
“40 guys punt, and it’s divided into seniors and juniors,” said Rizner.
“So basically you have to pass the first round. You have to be in the top five. You get 10 punts and if your stats are in the top five you get to move on to the next round.”
Rizner finished the first round in fourth, though the separation between the top four was marginal.
“It was real nerve-wracking,” said Rizner. “The guy who came in second (Manatee High School’s Jonathan Hernandez), I thought he’d probably win because his first round was awesome. He did really good his first round. And then the second round I just kind of stepped up.”
In his final round, Rizner jumped the field by booming a competition-best 60-yard punt and another with a competition-best 4.94 hang-time.
The title tops a year in which Rizner averaged 42.5 yards per punt for the Knights.
“I was hoping it’d be a lot more than that,” said Rizner of his average. “I had a good start and I kind of finished bad.”
Still, Rizner hopes what he has done during his high school career and the recent win will help get him where he wants to go.
“Maybe I’ll be able to get into a D1 school playing ball somewhere,” he said.