HomeNFLGeorgia Tech’s Irish punter David Shanahan backs GAA’s NFL hopefuls to succeed

Georgia Tech’s Irish punter David Shanahan backs GAA’s NFL hopefuls to succeed


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Shanahan, who played with the Kerry Under-17 team in 2017, is three years into a four-year scholarship with Georgia Tech, and will be playing in Dublin in August when his college team takes on Florida State in the Aer Lingus College Football Classic at the Aviva Stadium.

Beggan, Smyth, Jackson – goalkeepers with Monaghan, Down and Wicklow respectively – and Leader have been in the States over the last few weeks trying out as American football kickers, with a view to securing a lucrative contract with a NFL franchise, and Shanahan believes they can succeed, although it will be very difficult.

“It’s definitely possible. I would say from my perspective that kicking translates better than punting, especially for goalkeepers. I’m mean they’re all goalies which makes a lot of sense,” the Castleisland native said.

“It’s really a very similar ball striking motion, but at the same time there’s only 32 jobs for kickers in the NFL and there is a lot of really good guys coming out of college every year, but it’s definitely possible.

“I think every NFL team gets an extra practice squad spot for an international, so I think if they can get on that and get another year of development and coaching they have as good a chance as anyone if they put in the work.”

Shanahan is well settled into life as a college footballer now, but two things stand out from his own experience that he feels could make the transition for a Gaelic footballer to American football difficult.

“There was probably two things that I found it hardest to adjust to, the first thing is probably just the sheer scale of college football over here.

“Before I went over I knew about it, I watched the games, I read about it, but once you get over here it’s something you really have to adapt to. That was something that took some getting used to, playing in front of so many fans, the whole social media aspect and everything.

“And then the second thing, obviously, is if you play Gaelic football and you’re in the game and you have a bad possession you can get back on the ball and make up for it, but when you’re a punter or a kicker you might only get three or four shots a game to do your job and if you mess it up then that’s it.

“And you only have so much room to mess up, so that was probably the thing that was hardest to adapt to honestly, just the one shot nature of being a punter in college football. You get one go and you either did your job or you didn’t.”

Shanahan himself doesn’t qualify for an international player spot, as they are only available to players with a maximum of two years of American football experience.

Needless to say, the Kerry man would be hoping to get to the NFL through the draft system, but with another year left with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, he is focused on his senor year at the Atlanta city college, where he is fast establishing himself as a punter of considerable talent.

“I just take it one day at a time. I really just focus on we’re in spring ball now and going into summer workouts and ball camps. I’m really just focused on this season, honestly, and whatever happens after that will happen, but if I do what I want to this season I should be in a good position.”

Shanahan is a contemporary of Kerry footballers David Clifford and Sean O’Shea, and he is certain both have the attributes to play American football.

“Definitely. I would say (Clifford) probably has more of a punter build than a kicker build, he’s big and tall. Yeah, definitely if he got 18 months to two years of good training he’d definitely be able to,” he said.

“And probably Seanie O’Shea is another fella as well. I’d definitely fancy his chances as a kicker. They are obviously extremely good ball strikers so they definitely would have potential.”

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