Texas Tech added its second commitment of the weekend when Aussie punter Dominic Panazzolo was offered and committed on the spot during an official visit for the OU game.
The massive 6-foot-5, 210-pound punter from Adelaide, Australia is 21 years old and will have two years of eligibility after joining the program next summer. He graduated from high school in 2012.
"Once I graduated, professional wasn't really working out, so I decided to go to an academy called Pro Kick Australia. Tom Hackett (Utah, 2x Ray Guy award-winner, NYJ), Cam Johnston (Ohio State), Michael Dickson (Texas), we're all from the same program. I went there and got a scholarship at Snow College, moved to Utah for two years, and then just got this gig. It's been pretty good."
Panazzolo offers some intriguing athleticism for the position, clocking a 4.79-second 40-yard dash. The rugby-style punter discussed how the offer went down.
"I got offered on my official visit this weekend. I flew in on Friday afternoon and I got a tour of the facilities, met Kliff, met with coach Rob, and we had a good discussion. We spent hours watching film and getting to know each other. I got offered right before the game yesterday, Kliff pulled me into his office and offered me a full scholarship, which was great."
Special teams coach Joe Robinson told Panazzolo what he was looking for in a punter.
"He's looking for someone that's versatile and rather than get a two-step, American-style punter we're starting to see a trend of Australian punters. It's just really changed the game and you can really see that in what some of the guys are doing over here. I'm just grateful to be a part of that and I think I can definitely change Texas Tech special teams for sure. He thinks we can be Top 10 in the nation for net punting yards next year, and I think we can do exactly the same thing. We've already talked about formations and schemes that we can use to definitely change field position and make Texas Tech better overall in special teams."
The punter was asked about his thoughts on coach Robinson.
"He's one of the best special teams coaches I've been around. He's smart, he knows what he wants. He's been at Arizona, LSU, and South Carolina, so he's been around good special teams so I trust him completely. He will put me in the right situation and will set us up for talented special teams."
Panazzolo talked about the game and what he saw out of the special teams unit Saturday night.
"Offensively, Texas Tech did great. Mahomes, I think he broke the record for passing yards. The special teams definitely let them down yesterday, they had one punt that didn't even go across the fifty-yard line and set [Oklahoma] up, and luckily the defense got the stop, but those things really need to be taken care of. Special teams can definitely win games, as we've seen in other games. But the offense was definitely a strong point of Texas Tech's team."
The new Red Raider commit actually took some snaps from the long-snapper prior to the game.
"I got to meet the long-snapper and I kicked with him before the game, so I got to get ready for next year and see what the snapping's like and getting a feel for him, building that relationship early so we can have chemistry for next year and it's not just a shock to both of us."
Panazzolo loved Lubbock and was pleasantly surprised by his new home.
"It's definitely based around football, that's for sure. Football brings everyone there and it's a great town. When I got there I felt at home instantly, I just felt so welcomed by everyone. They have great facilities there. I'm happy to spend the next two years there."
Snow College is a perennial Utah powerhouse in JUCO football. Panazzolo discussed the season he's having there so far.
"We're 5-2 right now and we have three games left. We just had our fall break, so that's why I went on an official visit this weekend. We're looking okay, we had a really good team last year and we're struggling a bit this year, so we're just trying to keep up the reputation that Snow College has. It's a great program to be a part of and it's a great program to be recruited out of. It's going to suck to leave, but I know I'm going to a better place which will hopefully get me to play my best football."
Dominic Panazzolo committed to Texas Tech over an offer from Louisiana Tech.