Wyoming Offers Two, Lands One

Jordan Mannisto

It took nearly one month and another scholarship offer for the Cowboys to get a verbal out of Ben Parks. In the meantime, Jordan Mannisto has been receiving his fair share of praise. See what the two star kickers had to say about Parks' recent commitment and how his verbal will affect UW's offer to Mannisto…

The Cowboys got their kicker.

Now it's up to Ben Parks to prove he was the right choice.

The 6-foot-1, 190-pound senior from Argyle Secondary School in Argyle, Texas committed to Wyoming Monday night, a little more than a week after making an official visit to Laramie.

"Coach (Chris) Knutsen, the special teams coach…knows a lot about kicking. He's an awesome guy," said Parks, who was recruiting primarily by Knutsen. "And Joe Glenn, the head coach, he's probably one of the most friendly coaches you'll ever meet."

UW coaches offered Parks a scholarship nearly a month ago after seeing film of his senior season, but when the Texas standout failed to commit immediately after making the visit, Knutsen began considering other options.

"They were needing a decision by Christmas," Parks said, "and I was finishing up talking with some other schools.

"I called Coach (Knutsen) just to check up a couple of days ago, and he said they were going to have to (offer another kicker) just because they didn't have anybody else. They were putting all their marbles on me, and I didn't want to lose my opportunity to go there so I called back later that night after he told me, and I committed."

The other kicker was Westlake Village (Calif.) standout Jordan Mannisto, a 6-foot, 170-pound senior whose stock has been on a steady rise and could go even higher when he competes in the Chris Sailer National Kicking Competition next month.

Sailer, one of the nation's most popular kicking coaches and the only player in NCAA history to earn All-American honors as both a place kicker and a punter, had high praise for Mannisto.

"Jordan is a fine young kicker," Sailer told Scout.com recently. "He has a ton of ability and makes kicks. He has a great leg and very consistent, and he continues to improve at a rapid pace. He is one of the very best in the nation."

In fact, on his Web site, www.chrissailerkicking.com, Sailer lists Mannisto as the No. 13 high school kicker in the country and the best uncommitted prospect. He has Parks at No. 48.

Mannisto finished 2007 a perfect 31-of-31 on PATs and converted nine field goals on 12 tries, including four from 47 yards or longer. He also averaged 41.4 yards per punt and kicked 46 of 49 kickoffs for touchbacks.

Parks had more kicking attempts than Mannisto but was a hair less accurate, knocking in 11 field goals on 17 tries and converting 60-of-63 PATs. His punting average was also a shade under Mannisto's at 37.8 yards per punt, and his touchback percentage on kickoffs (just more than 50 percent) was far less menacing.

Still, Scout.com leaves Mannisto unranked among high school kickers and lists Parks as No. 26 in the country.

The Texas standout earned Associated Press All-State honors for the second straight season in 2007, and despite the offer to Mannisto, Parks said Wyoming's coaches told him he was their first choice all along.

"They thought I was the best fit for them," he said, "but they needed a backup in case I didn't commit."

Park's commitment most likely takes the offer to Mannisto off the table, although neither player was certain that was the case. NCAA rules prohibit coaches from commenting on recruits until after the national college football signing date, which is Feb. 6, 2008.

Mannisto held offers from Wyoming and Nevada and said they were both "pretty high" on his list, but Parks didn't leave him much of an opportunity to look into the Cowboys' program.

"Probably two days ago, (Wyoming) said that (Parks) came up and looked at the school and did not commit," he told CowboyBlitz.com today. "And I think they called him up and told him that they had another offer out to me."

Mannisto was scheduled to make a trip to Laramie in late January. He has not yet heard from UW coaches about whether Parks' verbal cancels out his offer.

"I'm guessing it does," he said. "Right now I'm pretty strong on (Nevada). I'm going to try to wait until my visit if I can (before committing)."

Were Wyoming to sign two kicker/punters in the '08 recruiting class, Mannisto said he would still consider the Cowboys.

"I've been (competing with other kickers) since I started kicking," he said, "so if I thought I was better then I'd probably still commit."

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