For most of UConn football’s incoming freshmen, they’re 18 or 19 and have just completed their four years of high school, some may have done a fifth year as a post-grad.
Then there’s punter Luke Magliozzi. He’s 23-years old, and hails from Australia. Instead of going to college out of high school, Magliozzi became an apprentice to learn the trade of plumbing.
“I was a full-time plumber as soon as I left high school,” he said. “I had an apprenticeship through a mate back home and did four years there.”
But after working for a few years, Magliozzi wanted to give something else a shot. As a kid who grew up playing Australian-rules football, he set his eyes on American football.
“I always felt I had a big kick growing up and obviously footie didn’t go the way I wanted to back home,” he said. “I contacted (ProKick Australia Instructor) Nathan Chapman and he said I had a good chance of going to college and if I do well these four years I could go pro.”
After a few months of trying to balance plumbing and punting, Magliozzi came to a crossroads. Whatever he did, he needed to dedicate all his time to. He could find work as a plumber again, but the chance to play sports at the highest level was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“I felt I had to give up everything to be here. It was a big decision but it just mattered how much I wanted it,” he said.
So he went all-in on punting. Although he played Australian Rules Football since he was a kid, Magliozzi needed to learn a completely new style of punting with a completely new ball.
“I first picked up an NFL football I was about 22,” he said. “It was frustrating at first. When we were kicking a footy, it was across our body so we had to change our technique.”
That transition was harder than expected. After struggling initially, Magliozzi found himself doubting his ability.
“Some days I felt like quitting, felt it wasn’t for me and it wasn’t going well,” he said. “Chapman said I need to keep calm and break down the steps and eventually it will all come together. Within those 12 months it came together pretty well and now I’m here.”
Once it all clicked for Magliozzi, the ProKick coaches began sending his tape to different college teams around the United States. In addition to football, they would make sure the schools were good fits academically for their players.
UConn would be one of the recipients of Magliozzi’s tape and ended up offering him a scholarship. Eventually, he would commit, despite not taking a single step on campus, or even knowing much about the school in general.
“Nothing really,” Magliozzi said on what he knew about UConn before committing. “I knew it was a good basketball school and I looked into it and [discovered] it was a big school.”
Deciding where to go was the easy part. Once that was done, he needed to gather the right paperwork and take the SATs before he could officially join the team. He left his home in Australia and headed to Toronto, Canada, where he stayed before arriving in Storrs on Thursday.
Since Magliozzi was already late to camp, Edsall wasted no time getting him to the practice field to start hitting punts. It was Magliozzi’s first real taste of American football.
“The snap and the rush,” he said on the biggest difference between here and Australia. “Back home we just had a jugs machine that would shoot out the balls so it’s been different getting to snap with a snapper.”
Despite such a small sample, Magliozzi’s boot has already impressed Edsall.
“We saw him hitting it tremendously,” he said. “The thing I’ve seen is the hang time.”
The coaching staff will surely teach Magliozzi during his time here but for now, Edsall wants him to focus on doing one simple thing.
“I just told him to relax,” said Edsall. “They want to do so well and he’s very conscientious but he’s had an tremendous ordeal just to get here so now it’s just let’s let him settle in and go out there and do the things he can do.”
While Magliozzi hasn’t officially been named the starting punter, all signs point to him winning the job. Hopefully, Rhett Lashlee’s offense is as good as advertised and we won’t be seeing Magliozzi out there too much. If we do, he may be able to make a play or two as a tackler given his background.