Darragh O’Neill said last week, all he wanted was a chance. This weekend at Detroit Lions rookie mini-camp, he got that chance, and the author of the new and improved punting record book at Colorado could not be happier with how he performed.
"I think I did [earn a shot to play somewhere,]” he said. “I think I kicked at the highest level I can kick at, and that’s all I could ask of myself. I can truly walk away from it saying I gave it my best shot."
“I hit a lot of punts and some kickoffs,” he added. “I think I showed them a lot of consistency, and some good punting, so I’m really happy with how I did up there.”
While trying to crack in to the NFL as a punter has it’s disadvantages, the biggest being that no team carries a backup on their roster, this weekend, Darragh felt his position was an advantage.
“I got a ton of reps…it was nice because I was the only true punter that was brought up there, so I really got to show them what I could do. Whereas with the other positions, you know, they might bring up 10 defensive lineman, and that makes it a lot harder to stand out.”
The former four-year starter at Colorado got the chance to work closely with the Lions special teams coaches.
“Their coaching staff was great, their special teams coach, coach [Joe] Marciano is a really good coach, he’s been in the business a very long time," said O'Neill. "They gave me a couple of tips, and overall I think they were pretty impressed.”
Of course, Darragh O’Neill the prospective NFL punter, kept it all business on the outside, but Darragh O’Neill the 23-year old who was supposed to be walking at his college graduation this weekend, allowed himself to enjoy the moment, even if just for a second.
“The first day I walked in, it was pretty surreal,” he admitted. “They pick you up from the airport in a nice bus, they drive you in and you just see the facilities and you’re like ‘wow, this is pretty incredible,’ but I settled in pretty quick.”
And he had to have a favorite moment.
“In the punt period [head] coach [Jim] Caldwell was standing like five feet behind me and I just really caught one nicely,” told O’Neill. “I think I hit a 70 yard punt and it was the very last punt of the day. That one will really stick out, that was a pretty cool experience.”
O'Neill's NFL dreams are certainly alive and well after his performance this weekend, but if things don't work out as a punter, he still has his ducks in a row. He leaves CU with a Masters Degree in accounting and already has an opportunity with "Big Four" accounting firm Ernst & Young.
[caption id="attachment_12548" align="alignnone" width="300"] O'Neill celebrates his graduation on Monday, after spending grad weekend in Detroit. (Click to enlarge)[/caption]