STILLWATER — It's common for the children of high school coaches to look up to the players.
It's not nearly as common for those kids to look up to guys like Zach Sinor.
He's the punter.
Yes, the punter.
But Sinor is worthy of that admiration. He's earned a scholarship offer from Oklahoma State — often a rarity for specialists — and plans to sign with the Cowboys on Wednesday.
“I don't mean this in a bad way,” said Steve Hale, Sinor's coach at Castroville (Texas) Medina Valley, “a lot of times, these kids will (look up) to quarterbacks or running backs. Not many times will they look up to the punter.
“But he comes with a smile on his face every day and you know what you're gonna get. These kids love him. Everybody loves him.”
Sinor will join kicker Ben Grogan as OSU's scholarship specialists. Yet Sinor didn't always know he had a big leg. In fact, he sort of discovered it by accident.
Growing up, he had mostly played quarterback and linebacker. But as a sophomore in high school, he started casually kicking the ball during a practice.
“I didn't really know I punted,” Sinor said. “Really, I just was kind of kicking the ball around. And (then coaches) said I was a punter on JV.”
Shortly after that, Sinor moved up to varsity.
Then Sinor became a true weapon for Medina Valley while earning Class 4A All-State honors from The Associated Press.
He consistently flipped the field, averaging 43.7 yards per punt with a long of 66. He once pinned the opponent inside its own 10-yard line in the waning minutes of a one-score game. Wind rarely affected his punts, Hale said. He was also the holder on field goals and extra points.
“It's just something that we relied on, and we knew that he could get us out of a hole,” Hale said. “And there were a lot of teams that knew that. They respected him. They would get back 45-50 yards, and a couple times, he still kicked over their heads.”
Meanwhile, Sinor sent out recruiting film to any colleges he could think of, including OSU. But he always thought the Cowboys were a long shot. Even with his late introduction to special teams, he could rattle off OSU's spectacular recent string of kickers and punters, including do-it-all man Quinn Sharp, Lou Groza winner Dan Bailey and Ray Guy winner Matt Fodge.
“I was surprised when (OSU) wrote me back, because I figured they'd want the best in the world,” Sinor said. “I guess I stood out to them.”
So Cowboy running backs coach Jemal Singleton, who also assists on special teams, visited Sinor at Medina Valley. Then Sinor went to an OSU camp over the summer, where he was told at the beginning that a scholarship could be up for grabs.
At the end, Sinor was offered. He committed on the spot.
“It's unreal,” Sinor said. “I never thought I would get a scholarship. I always thought I would get a walk-on (spot).”
The Cowboys have a returner at the position in Kip Smith, who averaged 39.6 yards per punt in 2013.
But extending a scholarship offer means OSU obviously believes Sinor can make an impact, either immediately or in the future.
Hale certainly believes in Sinor's big leg as much as his punter's popularity within his program.
“You can just close your eyes and you can hear that ball come off his foot like it's nobody's business,” the coach said. “It's like he kicks the air out of the ball.”