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Aussie punter ready to fill big shoes at CRF post

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FIU punter Jordan Doelling (96) runs onto the field during football practice at Florida International University in Miami, Fla. on Tuesday, August 16, 2022.

Special for the Miami Herald

Jordan Doelling looks like a beast linebacker and talks like… well, no other FIU football player.

Asked about his adaptation from his native Australia, the muscular 6ft 4in, 230lb Doelling praised his new teammates.

“I’ve met just about every boy,” said Doelling, a punter who had never lived in the United States before arriving on the CRF campus less than four weeks ago. “They’re all super adorable.”

Beauty aside, the FIU had a void at the punter following the 2021 season, when Tommy Heatherly was named Conference USA Special Teams Player of the Year. Heatherly, who set a school record and ranked eighth nationally last year with a punting average of 46.8 yards, was recently eliminated by the Dolphins and is trying to earn a spot in the NFL.

Enter Doelling, who played Aussie rules football at his home in Melbourne but, by his own admission, he wasn’t the required runner in the sport.

Instead, Doelling joined ProKick Australia, which has helped nearly 200 kickers/punters in their program win scholarships to American universities.

To that end, Doelling in 2019 took a ProKick tour of colleges, visiting schools in Texas, Arkansas and Tennessee. About 18 months later, he received a scholarship offer from CRF, and he quickly accepted.

Doelling is still not totally clear on all the rules regarding American football, especially why penalties are called.

“I still need to do a little research,” he said.

FIU coach Mike MacIntyre, however, isn’t worried if Doelling isn’t exactly fluent in Nick Saban’s rulebook.

“Grab the ball and throw it,” MacIntyre said with a smile. “Of course we go through all the rules, but I think he understands well how it works.”

MacIntyre said he was pleased with the adjustments Doelling made to the art of punting.

“The first few days he was trying to get used to it, but today he was just popping the ball,” MacIntyre said on Monday. “Every day he is more comfortable. He has a powerful leg.

Doelling, 22, is a sophomore after studying business for a year in Australia.

So how did Doelling first become interested in American football?

Doelling said he was 16 when he watched his first game — Florida State vs. Virginia Tech.

“I watched the crowds and the fireworks, and I was hooked,” he said. “After that, I started supporting the NFL and the Miami Dolphins, after watching Ace Ventura.”

Doelling said the transition to American football this summer has not been easy.

For example, in one of CRF’s first scrums, he kicked a punt because, he said, he wasn’t used to rushers sprinting towards his foot.

It’s not something that was replicated during his camp days in Australia.

Doelling also said the ball he kicks now is not as easy to start as the ones in Australia.

“At home the ball is bigger and juicier,” Doelling said. “When my foot hits the toe of the ball… I feel like my foot is broken right now.”

Over the past two weeks, however, Doelling has shortened his steps and made his follow-up more compact.

“I focus on my leg swing instead of all the distractions like (defenders) running at you,” Doelling said.

So far the plan is working.

Doelling recently kicked a punt that traveled 70 yards through the air.

His target, however, is 45 yards with a suspension time of 4.5 seconds.

“If I can do it consistently, I’ll be very happy,” Doelling said. “I try to match distance with hang time.”

MacIntyre said he always has fake punts in his playbook, and that seems especially true with a physical specimen such as Doelling, who can kick the ball 40 yards and looks like someone who can break tackles.

“Maybe I can switch positions,” joked Doelling. “But I can spiral. I can probably hit a target. It’s been better for a few weeks now. »

Or, to use Doelling’s terminology, it becomes attractive.