For years kickers and punters have been stereotyped as the most un-athletic members of a football team, but one Portland State player is trying to change that longstanding perception. His name is Danny Urrego.
For years kickers and punters have been stereotyped as the most un-athletic members of a football team, but one Portland State player is trying to change that longstanding perception.
His name is Danny Urrego.
On the roster sheet he is listed as a punter/kicker, but Urrego practiced as a wide receiver over the course of this spring and could see playing time at the position when the regular season kicks off in August.
Just the prospect excites him greatly.
“I would love to learn the plays and be able to be a part of the offense,” Urrego said. “This is a great opportunity for me to further develop.”
After beginning his high school career in the football-crazed state of Florida, Urrego earned a scholarship to Marshall University in West Virginia, where he was slated to play a kicker and wide receiver.
“They’re the only school that recruited me that would let me play both positions,” Urrego said.
His time at Marshall was short-lived, and Urrego transferred to Reedley Junior College, near Fresno, Calif., where he earned all-conference honors as a kicker before settling in last year at Portland State, a destination some 3,000 miles from his hometown of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Urrego functioned as the Vikings’ kicker and punter for much of last season, and will likely retain both of those duties this year. His average punt of 41.6 yards was the best for a Viking in seven years.
But this spring, Urrego began re-honing his wide receiver skills in an effort to add depth to the depleted but vital receiver position in offensive coordinator Darrell “Mouse” Davis’ run-and-shoot offense.
“He has real good speed, and may be one of the fastest receivers that we have,” Davis said. “He could definitely play in this offense.”
While Urrego’s time with the offense has been limited due to some reoccurring knee pain, he feels lucky to have had some time working in the sophisticated offensive scheme this spring.
“This is the toughest offense in the country to learn because the receivers have to understand so much and be in such great shape,” Urrego said.
Should Urrego earn time as a contributor to the Vikings receiving corps he would set himself apart from the typical role of a kicker and punter. Instead of being viewed as a player with only one talent, such as most kickers, Urrego has an opportunity to be respected as a gifted athlete with a strong work ethic.
“His main job is to perform as our kicker and punter,” Davis said. “The majority of his practice time will be devoted to those responsibilities, but if he gets a bit healthier, he could definitely help us.”
While his quickness and sure handedness are assets to the offense, coincidentally Urrego’s kicking power may also increase after spending time with the offense.
“In this offense you have to run so much, these are the most physically fit bunch of receivers in the nation,” Davis said.
As he gets in better shape to possibly earn time at wide receiver, Urrego’s kicking ability will also likely improve.
“The better shape my leg is in, the better kicker I will be,” Urrego said.
That is good news for a Portland State team that will likely rely on Urrego’s leg strength to help improve its field position due to the often-frantic nature of the run-and-shoot. Fans of the team will also be happy to hear that Urrego is applying for an extra year of football eligibility, as he currently has senior status.
The novelty of employing the athleticism of his kicker/punter has yet to faze Davis, although he is wary of the void that an injury to Urrego could create.
“He needs to focus on continuing to get better as a kicker,” Davis said. “But if he can pick up the offense and stay healthy, and we can utilize him, he will be an asset to our team.”