MOSCOW, Idaho – After a successful freshman year as Idaho’s punter and kicker, Austin Rehkow could soon join the Vandals’ basketball team.
Rehkow, who leads the FBS in punting average and set the Idaho single-season punting mark, will participate in basketball practices for the next week to 10 days and then decide with coach Don Verlin if he’ll stick with the club as a walk-on.
Verlin told The Spokesman-Review that he’s taking a “wait-and-see” approach to determine if Rehkow will become a full-fledged member of the team. The 6-foot-3 true freshman from Spokane Valley missed walk-on tryouts before the basketball season started, and Verlin said he wants Rehkow to experience practice before making a final decision.
“He thinks he wants to play,” Verlin said. “He’s not 100 percent sure. (Football coach Paul) Petrino has given the OK. I told him, ‘Come out and try. Now is the time. … Let’s not have any expectations and reevaluate it (after a week or so).’ ”
Rehkow averaged 47.8 yards per punt for the 1-11 Vandals this fall, currently the best mark in the nation. He topped T.J. Conley’s single-season record of 47.4 yards per punt set in 2008.
Rehkow also made 10 of 17 field goals, the longest coming from 41 yards, and handled UI’s kickoff duties. He garnered national acclaim at Central Valley High last October with a 67-yard field goal.
Verlin said he and Rehkow talked several times during the football season about Rehkow walking on with the basketball team. It would be a first for Verlin – he’s never had a football player join one of his teams during his six years at Idaho or 15 years as an assistant under Stew Morrill at Utah State and Colorado State.
If Rehkow chooses to play both sports, he could have a busy spring. Any postseason basketball appearance for the Vandals, if they qualify, would likely run into the start of spring football.
Verlin said he’ll have an “open dialogue” with Petrino if Rehkow sticks it out, but the conflicts with spring football would likely be minimal since Rehkow is a kicker and punter and not a position player.
In addition to serving as a kicker, punter, receiver and defensive back at Central Valley, Rehkow was the Bears’ leading scorer in basketball as a guard his junior and senior seasons.