Almost all football players are drafted out of college, rather than high school, because the extra "seasoning" in college makes them league ready, or nearly so (this is not true in baseball).

But suppose there was a high school kicker, who could routinely kick field goals from the 50-year line or further? Would a major league team consider drafting him or her for that particular skill without the further practice in college on the theory that "kicking" ability is basically independent of what else happens on the field (there is normally no contact for the kicker.) Or are anti-kick defenses much better in the "pros" than in high school? According to NFL rules, this could take place only several years after the high school graduation, unless this person applied for, and was granted "special eligibility," so maybe this person maintains the skill in junior college or abroad.

And most people who are, say, 5' 5" and 170 pounds (like the Houston Astros' Jose Altuve) would not be considered "playable" on an NFL football field, particularly if female. But could "kicker" be an exception to this rule?

  • 6
    According to the draft eligibility rules, four full NFL seasons must pass after a player's high school graduation to be eligible for the draft. This would nix any consideration of drafting any football player out of high school, kicker or otherwise...
    – user527
    Jan 19, 2015 at 21:14
  • @edmastermind29: OK, reworded the question to incorporate your comment. So maybe the answer is that no high school "paragon" that didn't go to college would have been "remembered," or had a chance to try out. Unless this person was also an academic whiz that somehow graduated college a year or two after high school.
    – Tom Au
    Jan 19, 2015 at 21:19
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    @edmastermind29 - not sure where you got that link but I know that juniors or redshirt sophomores (Earl Thomas out of Texas) are eligible. The rule has been 3 years for a long time but doesn't seem reflected in that doc.
    – Coach-D
    Jan 21, 2015 at 17:20

3 Answers 3


Here are some examples of players that came from a "non-traditional" background to play in the NFL.

There are examples of players that didn't play college football, but played another sports such as Antonio Gates who played basketball in college. Julius Thomas played only one year of college football after finishing his college basketball career.

There are also examples of players that played other sports such as rugby. Daniel Adongo played rugby before coming to the NFL. Jordan Hayne is a top level rugby player that is trying to make it in the NFL.

Lawrence Okoye was a track and field athlete for Great Britain before entering the NFL.

As far as kickers, some of them played soccer before turning to football in their college careers or late in high school such as Steven Hauschka.

  • This is a good answer with good examples. There are many rugby players worldwide being scouted. I would assume with the level of athlete in top tier rugby that 20% of rugby players would be able to handle NFL. Certainly a lot of teams are looking at rugby for cheap punters.
    – Coach-D
    Jan 20, 2015 at 18:02

Many punters originated in Australian Rules Football, or even soccer. Sav Rocca for example came to the States after a successful Aussie Rules career, at 33. Other Aussie Rules players are listed in this article, including Ben Graham, Darren Bennet, and others. This generally yields punters, not placekickers.

Havard Rugland ("Kickalicious"), a Norwegian adult (28 y.o. at the time), tried out for the Lions at placekicker in 2014 after a viral Youtube video. He didn't make the team, but performed fairly well in preseason.

As pointed out by Ed, NFL Rules regarding draft eligibility prevent the specific concept in the question (a kicker coming out earlier than other players) from being implemented. I'd also note that kickers and punters are not very well compensated compared to other players (often near minimum salaries - still nice chunk of change, but not world-moving money amounts) and are at a reduced risk of injury compared to other players, thus suggesting that they likely would be better off going to college and getting a degree rather than coming out early (simply because they could easily fail out, and need a backup plan).

Additionally, kickers and punters are not typically drafted highly - Sebastian Janikowski was one of four placekickers drafted in the first round, after all, and he was an incredible phenom in college. The odds of a team being willing to take a risk on an 18 or 19 year old kicker seems low, particularly when most high school teams don't even kick very much.


Michael Weinreb wrote a great article for Grantland.com this fall about Scott Harding, who he calls the "most interesting man in college football." Harding has a background in Australian Rules Football and plays for Hawaii as both a punter and a wide receiver. There's no saying whether he'll be drafted by an NFL team this year (he's old for a rookie) but someone like him could definitely be.

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