Luke Allen is determined to grab his chance of fulfilling his NFL dream.
The former Simonstone St Peter’s Primary pupil is looking to catch the eye of an anticipated 25-plus group of scouts in Arizona next month, at a specialist kicking combine for free agents looking to earn a deal with a professional American football team.
Luke, 23, earned a workout with the New York Jets last year, and performed well, but as the Jets already had a punter signed, not much came of it.
Now, a year later, he is vying against countless rivals for one of 32 jobs, with no backup punters or kickers in the NFL.
He is now preparing to head down to Florida to train, then to Arizona to a combine for the chance to show his stuff.
Luke is looking to follow one of his former college teammates into the NFL, with Will Tye having just enjoyed a breakout season with the New York Giants.
Born in Blackburn, Luke lived in Baxenden and Huncoat before moving between Simonstone and Padiham on Higham Road.
A big Manchester United fan, he went to Simonstone St Peter’s and played football, or soccer, for Readstone United.
After taking his SAT exams and taking the entrance exam for QEGS in Blackburn, his father Peter was presented the opportunity to work in New York, out on Long Island.
After a visit, the family committed to the move in August 2004, to Port Jefferson.
Luke went from a class of 14, to a far bigger school, but the one thing that set him apart were his soccer skills.
And when he moved to Port Jefferson high school, for Years 9-12, one day, the coach of the American football team asked if he could do with a oval ball what he could do with a round one!
Luke was exposed to a new aggressive sport, and, unsure of the rules, one punt went for negative yards, but by Year 11, he was starting for the varsity team.
People started to tell him he had NFL potential, and one day he was called out of his English class, and, thinking he was in trouble, he found a Stony Brook University football coach, Jon Woods, waiting.
They wanted him to go and play there, and, amid interest from big colleges, like Miami, he committed to the Stony Brook Seawolves.
The first game of his freshman year saw him open up at an NFL stadium, Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Raymond James Stadium, against the University of South Florida.
Luke ran out to 40,000 screaming fans, and although Stony Brook lost the game, badly, he was hooked.
The following year, Stony Brook made the play-offs and clinched the Big South Conference championship at home to rivals Liberty.
His senior year was his best yet.
Although the team didn’t perform to their potential, he managed a career season, kicking the school record punt of 72 yards. He was selected as an all-conference player and voted special teams MVP by his teammates, and looked to pursue his career as a professional athlete in the NFL.
Luke made contact with one of the best punting coaches in the nation, Mike McCabe, and moved down to Florida to train with him.
At his pro day at Stony Brook, his chance to punt in front of NFL scouts, only six scouts turned up, being at a smaller school, but earned a try out with the Jets, and this year he is hoping to make the step up to the NFL.