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.

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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.

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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.

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