FIU punter’s recent 70-yard kick matches up with his imposing size

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

Asked about his adjustment from his native Australia, the muscular 6-foot-4, 230-pound Doelling praised his new teammates.

“I’ve met pretty much all the boys,” said Doelling, a punter who had never lived in the U.S. before arriving on FIU’s campus less than four weeks ago. “They are all super lovely.”

Loveliness aside, FIU had a void at punter following the 2021 season, when Tommy Heatherly was named Conference USA’s Special Teams Player of the Year. Heatherly, who set a school record and ranked eighth nationally last year with a 46.8-yard punting average, was recently cut by the Dolphins and is trying to make an NFL roster.

Enter Doelling, who played Australian Rules Football back home in Melbourne, but, by his own admission, he wasn’t the runner that is required in that sport.

Instead, Doelling joined ProKick Australia, which has helped nearly 200 kickers/punters from their program earn scholarships at U.S. colleges.

Toward that end, Doelling, in 2019, took a ProKick tour of universities, visiting schools in Texas, Arkansas and Tennessee. About 18 months later, he got a scholarship offer from FIU, and he quickly accepted.

Doelling still isn’t totally clear on all the rules regarding American football, especially regarding why penalties are called.

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

FIU coach Mike MacIntyre, though, isn’t concerned if Doelling doesn’t exactly have Nick Saban’s command of the rulebook.

“Catch the ball and punt it,” MacIntyre said with a smile. “Of course, we’re going over all the rules, but I think he has a good understanding of how it works.”

MacIntyre said he’s pleased with the adjustments Doelling has made in the art of punting.

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

Doelling, 22, is a sophomore academically after studying business for one 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 versus Virginia Tech.

“I watched the crowd 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 hasn’t been easy.

For example, during one of FIU’s first scrimmages, he shanked a punt because, he said, he wasn’t used to rushers sprinting toward his foot.

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

Doelling also said the ball he is kicking now isn’t as easy to boot as the ones in Australia.

“Back home, the ball is bigger and juicier,” Doelling said. “When my foot hits the point of the ball … it seems like my foot is broken right now.”

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

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

So far, the plan is working.

Doelling recently unleashed a punt that traveled 70 yards in the air.

His goal, though, is 45 yards with a hang time of 4.5 seconds.

“If I can do that consistently, I will be very happy,” Doelling said. “I try to match up the distance with the 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 throw the ball 40 yards and has the look of someone who can break tackles.

“Maybe I can go for a position change,” Doelling joked. “But I can throw a spiral. I can probably hit a target. Over the past couple of weeks, it’s been getting better.”

Or, to put it Doelling’s terminology, it’s getting lovely.