Trying out for my dreams

By Thomas Donley, @tdonleyDE

I am going for it.

I am tired of sitting around wishing my days competing in organized athletics could be relived.

I do not want to be that guy telling everyone about my potential of making it 20 years from now. It is time to put my money where my mouth is.


That is why I will be participating in the SIU football walk-on tryouts Monday.

I do not have the size to play defensive end or tight end, the speed to play safety or the wherewithal to play quarterback, like I did at Unity High School in Mendon. None of those were my best positions anyway.

My senior year, I was named to the All-Western Illinois Valley Conference First-Team as a punter, averaging about 45 yards per kick. My career long was a 63-yarder that could have gone about 70 if we had been backed up a bit further.

If football is in my future, it is at the position everyone prefers to stay on the sideline.

In full disclosure, though, I did have a punt go negative four yards once. Long story short, the other team rushed me as the quarterback that night and I tried to get rid of the punt in a hurry after a bad snap.

The odds are not exactly stacked against me in this tryout.

Nick Neidig, who just finished his freshman season, is a pretty decent punter for SIU. But he did get benched a couple times in 2014, so the staff could be looking for any kind of competition they can bring in.


Another factor working in my favor is my experience as a quarterback in high school. I may not have enough experience to diagnose a defense and call audibles at the line, but my throwing accuracy is good enough to be a threat on a fake punt.

My mom was always worried for my safety when I played in high school. And mom, if you are reading this, I am sorry if this worries you again. But do not stress too much, it is usually illegal to touch the punter.

I have been training pretty hard for this opportunity since the semester started by hitting the Recreation Center three or four times a week. My main focus has been squats and other leg lifts in order to get as strong as possible. I am not quite back to my personal best, but I am on my way there. I have also been running about seven miles a week to get in shape.

My diet, however, would probably drive gym rat nutrition junkies insane. I do not have an extensive knowledge of exactly what to eat and what not to eat. Hopefully, the exercise will be enough to get my right leg strong enough to kick a football 50 or 60 yards.

We will see Monday if my work pays off and my daydreams of playing football once again come true.

Thomas Donley can be reached at t[email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 269.