Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013 | 5:33 p.m.
Green Valley High place kicker Conor Perkins verbally committed today to the UNLV football team before its home game against Western Illinois.
Let the comparisons to current UNLV senior kicker Nolan Kohorost begin. And rightfully so.
Kohorst was the Green Valley kicker through the 2009 season — with Perkins following in his footsteps. Both are coached by Daren Libonati, a local kicking guru and former UNLV kicker.
It’s been a great weekend for Perkins. Friday, he hit the game-winning extra point in overtime to help Green Valley beat Palo Verde, 42-41.
Then, before today's UNLV home game, he found coach Bobby Hauck and accepted the Rebels’ scholarship offer. He was accompanied by his family.
“I like a lot about UNLV. I like the way they treat their special teams and the way they treat Nolan,” Perkins said. “(Being able to talk with Nolan) helps me know what they do in practice and what to expect.”
UNLV was his lone offer, but he had recruiting interest from Utah and Utah State, and also attended a summer camp at Boise State, where his older sister, Ciera Perkins, is part of the gymnastics team.
He just seemed destined to be a Rebel.
Over the past few summers, he would kick alongside Kohorst during Libonati’s kicking retreat in San Diego. The competition helped transform Perkins into a Division I caliber kicker.
Last year, he drilled a 37-yarder as time expired to beat Canyon Springs in the Northeast League title game, showing he isn’t bothered by a pressure situation.
“Conor is a good kicker. He has been a good kicker for us for four years now,” Green Valley coach Brian Castro said. “He has worked hard at it. He is someone we rely on for sure.”
Libonati had trained eight Division I kickers counting Perkins. During Perkins’ initial years learning the ins and outs of the position, he was his own biggest critic in always striving for perfection. This season, he is 2 0f 3 on field goals — he missed a 57-yard attempt into the wind Friday at the end of the first half — and 19 of 20 on extra points.
“I used to be pretty hard on myself,” he said. “As a kicker, you have to learn to move on from the lows.”
With Libonati by his side, that process was made easy. Just like his did with Kohorost, and former UNLV great Nick Garritano, Libonati has been there every step of the way.
“He’s a great athlete,” Libonati said. “It was just a matter of time to get him to understand to stay with the plan. It’s been exciting to watch these kids grow.”
In addition to Libonati’s prodigies, Las Vegas has become a hotbed of sorts for kickers.
Colin Ditsworth of Bishop Gorman is at UNR, Jay Mattox from Las Vegas High is a freshman at UTEP and Gorman senior Ahmed Ramiz has a scholarship offer from New Mexico State. There was also the Jaekle brothers — Ben for UNLV before Kohorst and Brett for UNR.