Nation Ford punter Skyler DeLong fell for Rocky Top during a visit to Tennessee’s spring football game.
On Thursday the 6-foot-3, 180-pound rising senior committed to kick footballs at the Vols’ cavernous Neyland Stadium.
“I’ve just been in love with it since I was there,” he said on Thursday afternoon.
Tennessee’s special teams recruiter reached out to DeLong after the 2016 season ended, requesting that the Falcon punter record a video of specific workouts so the Vols coaching staff could assess him. DeLong performed well on the video with the help of his kicking coach, Dan Orner, and continued communicating with the Tennessee coaching staff throughout the spring. He visited the school for its spring football game and was offered two weeks ago.
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“I’ve been training hard since I was in about the eighth grade, just for this day,” DeLong said. “It’s all come together.”
DeLong is a highly ranked punter by several respected entities that track punters and place-kickers. Chris Sailer Kicking ranks DeLong second nationally out of 116 punters, describing him as a “great athlete with elite leg strength.” Kohl’s Kicking Camps ranked DeLong third nationally among punters, labeling him as one of the premier hang-time punters in the country.
Nation Ford coach Michael Allen earlier this week described DeLong’s recruitment as “crazy,” because of the national interest. DeLong’s Tennessee offer is for punting and kickoffs, indicative of his lively right leg. He’s working on perfecting his Aussie-style punt, but feels confident that the rest of his skills will be ready for the SEC. There’s still work to do on his long frame.
“I definitely need to gain probably about 20 pounds,” he said.
DeLong said he hit 81 percent of his kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks last fall and averaged about 40 yards per punt.
His recruitment isn’t over, but if did end Thursday he’d be thrilled to land at Tennessee. He has two other full scholarship offers for punting, from Rutgers and Army. DeLong plans to attend camps this summer at Tennessee, Clemson and Alabama.