Former Harvard punter gets a kick out of GCU workouts
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
It’s not unusual to see professional athletes working out occasionally at Grand Canyon University — LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers practiced here recently. There was another pro practicing nearby last week, and while this one is hardly a household name, it was easy to spot his pro-level ability to punt footballs great distances on the field east of Antelope Gym.
He’s Jake Dombrowski, and he spent training camp last summer with the Buffalo Bills after previously getting tryouts with five other National Football League teams: Jacksonville, Washington, Tampa Bay and the New York Giants and New York Jets. He didn’t make the Bills’ final roster, but he got to punt in three of the four preseason games and hopes to get another tryout somewhere in the NFL this year.
Phoenix is a great place for Dombrowski because his girlfriend, Kaylee Caudill, is a GCU junior, and because the sunny skies and warm temperatures here beat those in his northern Michigan town of Gaylord, where it was well below zero last week. It also helps that one of his kicking coaches, Gary Zauner, is in Fountain Hills.
“It’s a great campus,” Dombrowski said of GCU. “It’s almost like being on vacation when you’re going to school here. When I saw the palm trees and the pool, I couldn’t believe it.”
It’s not as if Dombrowski went to a slouch of a university — he’s a Harvard man. He also isn’t a slouch as a punter. He punted in 31 games during his Harvard career and was first-team All-Ivy League as a senior.
Dombrowski split the punting duties in exhibition games last year with the Bills’ starter, Brian Moorman. Each would get all the punts in one half of each game, but it just so happened that in the final exhibition the team didn’t need to punt in Dombrowski’s assigned half. He didn’t survive the final cut, and Moorman got the job. Such is the life of a prospective NFL punter.
“It’s pretty tough, especially coming from a small school,” he said.
Practicing punting is tough duty, too. Dombrowski only has three footballs and no one to shag for him, so it’s punt, punt, punt, chase. But he looked as if he was enjoying himself.
After all, he could have been in northern Michigan.
Contact Rick Vacek at 602-639-8203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.