Back when slapping palms was OK: Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins celebrates with fans after beating North Carolina State last season. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Georgia Tech’s punting commit is Irish, has trained in Australia

Georgia Tech has secured a commitment for its successor to punter Pressley Harvin, a prospect whose home is a little farther from Atlanta than Harvin’s hometown of Alcolu, S.C.

David Shanahan, who announced his commitment Friday, is from Ireland, but has spent the last several months training to be a punter in Australia. In recent years, punters from Australia have taken over that element of the game.

Six of the past seven winners of the Ray Guy Award, given annually to the nation’s top punter, are Australian, and more specifically have all trained with Prokick Australia, the punting and kicking academy that Shanahan left Ireland to train with.

Shanahan left Ireland “for the sole reason to learn how to punt to go to America, and he got an opportunity,” Nathan Chapman, Prokick Australia’s head punting coach, told the AJC.

Shanahan played Gaelic football in Ireland – something of a mix between soccer, rugby and basketball – but was interested in football and got into contact with Prokick Australia. Fortuitously, an academy coach happened to be in England and flew to Ireland to take a look at Shanahan.

Shanahan passed the test, and was on his way to Melbourne, Australia.

“I guess people are now starting to feel like the training’s worth it, and they get good results, or we get good results,” Chapman said. “We work them pretty hard. So if you feel like that’s what you need to do, then it becomes sort of like an investment. You want to get the best out of yourself.”

Shanahan has the ability.

“He’s got a cannon of a leg,” Chapman said, “and it’s our job to make sure that he controls it and can do what’s required.”

Beyond that, Chapman describes him as hardworking, a good student and a “great lad.” Also, he’s “nuggety,” Australian for stocky.

Chapman helped connect Shanahan and Tech through contacts with the Yellow Jackets, including general manager Patrick Suddes. Chapman knew Suddes from his time overseeing recruiting at Auburn, where Australian Arryn Siposs punted for the Tigers and recently signed as an undrafted free agent with the Detroit Lions.

(If you’re wondering, Chapman is familiar with former Tech defensive tackle and Aussie Adam Gotsis, now with the Denver Broncos, but does not know him.)

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Tech will need a punter following this season, as Harvin is going into his senior season. Chapman said Shanahan probably could also handle kickoffs and field goals.

“I’d say his strengths are, he’s got a really strong leg, he’s really clean in the pocket, but he’s also got that ability to sort of roll out and drive the ball down the field,” Chapman said. “He’s pretty quick, too, so there’s a chance for him to run.”

Chapman describes Prokick Australia as a “small boutique academy that trains young men to punt or kick a football.” Training typically runs about a year to 14 months. There are about 40 players in the program, which sticks only with punting and kicking and does not have a competitive team.

Chapman figures Shanahan could be ready to come to the U.S. in January, when he could be an early enrollee for the 2021 class.

Shanahan continued the string of commitments that coach Geoff Collins has received. He is the ninth prospect to commit to the 2021 signing class, and the sixth since April 28.


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