UW Roster Review, No. 2-99: Is the Kicking Job Peyton's Place or Not?

The veteran Husky player remains in a continual battle to be the starter.

Peyton Henry kicked with the wrong foot. The University of Washington football player was that rare lefty off the tee. 

As a walk-on redshirt freshman, he suffered a crushing setback when he missed a chip-shot field goal from 38 yards to beat Oregon at the end of regulation, leading to a difficult overtime defeat in Eugene.

Next the Huskies awarded a scholarship to a highly rated Hawaiian kicker, Tim Horn, seemingly bringing in a ready replacement for Henry.

This spring, Henry, after forcing the other guy to watch him kick field goals and extra points while giving way on kickoffs for two seasons, appeared to be less effective in different stretches over 15 practices. 

Yet every time it's seemed he might have difficulty hanging on to the job, Henry has stepped forward, teed it up and kicked it through.

The 6-foot, 200-pounder from Danvllle, California, a junior in class standing, has been the Husky starting kicker for three seasons, earned his own scholarship along the way and shown he's not going to simply step aside for anyone.

"We chart all these things, the distances and who's making them and who's not making them, and it's a continual position battle," coach Jimmy Lake said of his kickers as spring practice came to a close.

Peyton Henry follows through on a Husky field goal.

Peyton Henry follows through on a field-goal try, held by Race Porter.

Going down the roster in numerical order, this is another of our post-spring assessments of all of the Husky talent at hand, gleaned from a month of observations, as a way to keep everyone engaged during the offseason.

Henry wears No. 47, a number he has all to himself, and one that's usually an obscure digit in Husky annals.

Henry, who followed quarterback teammate and friend Jake Haener from Danville to Seattle, seems fairly resilient, bouncing back from the Oregon misfire to be almost perfect the following season. He's hung in there and excelled even after Haener transferred to Fresno State.

In 2019, Henry was named a second-team All-Pac-12 selection after he was good on 19 of 21 field-goal attempts and all 49 conversion kicks.

While the Oregon kick easily could have haunted him and even ruined his college career, he emerged from it confident and circumspect.

"I think it was actually good something like that happened," Henry said. "I learned from it."

Horn appeared to have the longer leg during spring practice, by a considerable margin at times, maybe 10 yards more on comparable kicks. Yet Henry seemed undaunted by this.

In the spring game, Henry and Horn each converted a pair of kicks between 34 and 39 yards, making the day a wash in the Husky kicking sweepstakes.

Each placekicker now has a scholarship, which is indeed a rarity for a major-college team to have two who are paid for. Previous first-team All-Americans Chuck Nelson and Jeff Jaeger arrived as UW walk-ons and had to prove they deserved financial aid. It has not been unusual for the Huskies to go through seasons and not have a kicker on scholarship.

The competition will continue into the fall, with Henry the incumbent having to deal with Horn, likely an impatient challenger by now. The veteran comes off a short pandemic season in which he made 6 of 9 field goals. 

No promises have been made to either guy, other than they each better stay on their toes if they want the job all to themselves.

"[They're] two guys we have a lot of confidence in, Tim Horn and Peyton Henry," Lake said in noncommital fashion, "and I'm excited we have two quality kickers on our football team," 

Henry's 2021 Outlook: Projected starting kicker

UW Service Time: Played in 31 games, started 31

Stats: made 41 of 52 field-goal attempts, long of 45; converted on 105 of 107 extra-point kicks; 75 kickoffs

Individual Honors: 2019 second-team All-Pac-12

Pro Prospects: NFL free-agent signee

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