David Lonie has definitely taken a long and unique road to football success. The 6-6, 215 (reported 4.5 40) kicker/punter is currently playing football at Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls, Iowa, and his talent has earned him offers from Ohio State, Michigan, Illinois, Georgia, Cal, Louisville, Temple, and Baylor. A few years ago though, Lonie would have never imagined that he would be on the path he is now on.
Lonie, who comes from the Gold Coast of Australia in Queensland, does not have a deep background in American football.
"I played a little rugby and Aussie football, but mostly soccer and track,
water polo, and surfing," he said.
He was quite the track star as he told us he was a national medallist in track as well as a decathalete. He also ran middle distance and participated in the pole vault.
The pole vault?
"I guess I'm a thrill seeker," he said.
Lonie left Australia in 1999. Soccer was the sport he wanted to pursue, and he had played in Spain and France before deciding to come to the United States to become a soccer coach.
He happened upon football as a strange twist of fate. While Lonie was working as a water skiing instructor, he picked up a ball one day with someone he was working with and just starting kicking it. Even though he hadn't kicked until two years ago, he impressed enough to make people (and himself) believe he could have a future in kicking the football.
Lonie sent out a professionally-made tape to several schools, and the reaction was extraordinary.
"I had no idea how big these schools were when I sent the tape out," he said. "Most of them offered before I ever played in a football game.
"On the tape, I was kicking the ball 50 yards and averaging 4.5 to 5 second hang time."
Lonie wound up going to junior college since he did not receive the academic credentials he needed from his school in Australia, but he has shown on the JUCO gridiron that he's the real deal. He has an average of 44.8 yards per punt and has been putting the ball through the uprights on kickoffs.
One of the schools that would love to have Lonie kicking the ball is Ohio State. He visited the Buckeyes this past weekend and was excited about the time he had in Columbus. He hung around with current Buckeye kicker Mike Nugent ("Mike Nugent is a great guy," he said) and was also impressed when a fan recognized him.
"A fan called out my name," he said. "He said ‘Hey Lonie, we need you here.' That was bizarre."
Lonie says he'd get a look as a kickoff man in addition to being a punter and eventually a place kicker, but that might not be all as his size and speed can certainly be utilized in other ways.
"Some schools are talking about me playing a little wide receiver," he said. "I'd really like to catch the ball and get involved like that."
Lonie would like to play for the NFL, and he already has had contact with some pro kickers, including fellow native Australian Darren Bennett.
"I was just talking to Darren Bennett the other night," he said. "I've been around a lot of NFL kickers. David Akers and Doug Pelfrey."
We won't have to wait long to find out where Lonie is headed, and it also won't be long until he starts at his new school.
"Wherever I go, I'll be there in January," he said.
"I've got a December 5th and 6th with Cal. Since I'm going to be enrolling in January, I'm going to have to make a quick decision. I should have something by December 8th or 9th."