Spartan Kicker/Punter Headed to Lawrence to Play for Les Miles and the Kansas Jayhawks

GTR Sports Writer
KU BOUND: Bixby kicker/punter Reis Vernon will join the Big 12 Conference next season as a Kansas Jayhawk. He chose KU over Oklahoma State and Nebraska.

Chris Harris Jr. had success at Kansas over a decade ago, now another Bixby product hopes to follow suit.
Reis Vernon, the Spartans’ kicker/punter chose Lawrence as his college destination in late January and signed early last month.
“Honestly, it felt like home,” Vernon said. “I feel like coach (Les) Miles is an amazing head coach I want to play under. The academics were there for me, my parents would be able to make every game. It just had that home feeling. It just clicked for me right when I got on campus. It was kind of a done deal once I got there.”
Vernon chose the Jayhawks over Oklahoma State and Nebraska.
What Vernon likes most about kicking is learning something new every time he goes out on the field. He has learned how to kick off through watching YouTube videos.
“I’ve watched college guys, NFL guys and I just take bits and pieces from them and then create my own sort of swing and style and that’s probably what I love most about it,” he said.
His favorite NFL punters are Tress Way (Washington Redskins) and Thomas Morstead (New Orleans Saints). Favorite college punter is soon-to-be teammate Kyle Thompson, who’ll be a senior next season at Kansas. Vernon likes Daniel Carlson, who played collegiately at Auburn and now with the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders, as his favorite kicker.
Vernon began playing football his sophomore season. He has played soccer and basketball in the past, but he decided to go all in on football by his senior year.
The lessons learned in kicking also helps Vernon in life, he said.
“The biggest one I had to learn was if you miss a kick or if you make a kick, you have to forget about it,” Vernon said. “You always have to look to the next kick. Any failure or any kind of downfall in my life, I’m always going to be able to bounce back up from it. I’m never going to get too high or get too low. I only get one shot to do something right and there is no ‘close.’ You either did it or you didn’t. That’s the mindset I have always had when kicking. I feel that that will benefit me in life.”
During his Spartan career, Vernon made 11-of-15 field goal attempts, his longest a 37-yarder, and was 100 percent on PATs.
Being part of the Bixby dynasty – two straight state titles and five in six years – has been incredible, Vernon said. “I really don’t know what it’s like to lose very much,” he added.
Of course that will be a challenge in college since Kansas has often been in the Big 12 cellar and finished 3-9 in Miles’ first season in 2019, but Vernon sees that changing.
“I think Les Miles has it in the right direction,” he said. “I want to be a part of it. I think it is getting turned around for sure.”
Meanwhile, reflecting back on Bixby, “Fortunately, we hardly ever had to punt. I was mostly kicking off and doing PATs. We had some guys out scoring. But it’s been an incredible experience, I’ve loved every minute. A lot of these guys I played with this year as seniors. I’ve been playing some sort of sport with them since first grade, so it was kind of a sad season too, to know this was our last season together in anything. It was bittersweet overall.
Vernon loved playing in the Class 6AII state championship game, in which the Spartans won 40-36 against Stillwater for their second straight title and fifth in six years.
“I love playing in the state championship,” he said. “It is probably one of my favorite games to play in. Everybody is pumped up. I hit a field goal in that game, I was perfect on PATs, got some big kickoffs, good punts, so it was a good game for me and we knew going into it that special teams was going to play a huge role in that game. So it was really a good experience.”
Vernon can see Bixby continuing as a perennial power.
“We have a great culture there,” he said. “I think every year, the seniors have set a tone that the juniors and sophomores want to follow. I think this senior class has done a good job of setting a tone of what it’s like to bring it everyday in practice and the weight room. I think it’s going to be successful for a long time.”

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