Pat Newins didn’t start playing football competitively until his senior year of high school.
But it didn’t take long to realize he may have a future in the sport.
After playing integral roles on special teams for Misericordia University, Newins started seeing NFL scouts showing up to his games during his senior campaign last fall. Now he’s participating in Villanova’s pro day on March 27 .
For this week’s Away from the Game, we caught up with the punter and discussed his football career, love for scuba diving and his goals for the March 27 pro day.
DJ EBERLE: You got invited to go to Villanova’s pro day. How did that come about and your thoughts and excitement for this opportunity?
PAT NEWINS: Yeah, so over winter break I went out to San Diego and trained with this guy John Carney, who was in the NFL for a while, and I worked out with him for the week and everything and he said I should really focus on trying to find an agent because he said I had a lot of intangibles a lot of guys don’t and that I should have a good opportunity. So I really just looked online and reached out to a ton of people and I ended up signing with this one guy, Marty Magid, because he kind of was the only one who responded to me, and he was really pushing the pro day stuff on me.
He kind of brought that opportunity up. He said he knew the coaches and he was like, “I know you could do well there.” And out of my coaches up at school, they all somehow know them. It’s crazy how many connections they have and they kind of just knew each other and got me in.
So looking back at your Misericordia career, you were a factor on special teams all four years, you were an All-MAC player for three. When did you know you had potential to further your career past Division III football?
Probably Week 3. We’re playing up at Wilkes and we’re just warming up and this guy wearing a black Washington Redskins polo is on the sidelines taking notes and everything of me kicking. I was just trying to brush it off, not pay attention to it, and then after the game I was talking to our grad assistant and it ended up being one of his buddies, but just a scout from the Redskins there, it’s pretty cool. Then it just kind of kept going throughout the season. Apparently another scout from I think the New York Jets came down for a game, but I didn’t really see him.
As the season got later and later I stayed pretty high up in the Division III rankings for punt average, so I kind of just was like, “Hey, we’ll kind of just see what happens.”
So for you, is the goal to make it in the NFL? Is that what you have your eyes set on right now?
Yeah, of course that would be the huge, ultimate end goal. Realistically I know it’s a pretty long shot, especially with how many guys are actually really pursuing it also. Really, right now my main goal is to have a good showing at the pro day and hopefully have a scout or a coach notice me and invite me to a rookie minicamp or something like that — baby steps.
Back in high school — I know you’re from New York — did you just kick and punt?
I actually didn’t start anything football related until the summer going into my senior year because I played soccer since I was four. It was kind of like a joke. All the guys from high school were like, “Why don’t you come out for the football team?” My mom hated it. So I only did field goals and extra points, and they wouldn’t let me go anywhere near the punt because they didn’t want me to mess anything up because I really wasn’t that great at it at all.
Then I came here for lacrosse and football because they presented me with the opportunity to do both. Since coming here I just kicked mostly and I kind of out of nowhere figured out in my head how to punt and not just kick the ball. After that I’ve just kind of been focusing on punting more so than the kicking game because I kind of sensed I was a lot better at it.
PlayStation, are you like a Madden guy? Or do you play FIFA since you played soccer?
Out of me and all my roommates, I’m probably the worst out of everyone. Just like if they’re playing me they kind of like walk right over me. But we kind of go through stages where we’ll be playing Madden and we’ll get sick of that then we’ll play the UFC game or Call of Duty. Kind of day-to-day with that. Right now we’re playing a lot of the Zombies on Call of Duty.
When you’re back home, what are some of the things you enjoy or when you’re here that you miss most about back home?
Definitely the beach. My house is like 10 minutes away from Jones Beach. I actually work there over the summer. Just going to the beach is one of the big things. That pretty much for the most part, and then a lot of my family lives really close by. Over here we don’t really have anyone.
What’s something that people don’t know about you?
Well, I’m a pretty big scuba diver. Me and my family, we’ve gone to the Caribbean five or six times. My dad was on the dive team when he was a police officer, my mom’s really good at it. They kind of just brought me and my brother and sister up into that. We try to go when we can. We go for a week and dive three times a day. It’s really, really awesome.
So where’s the coolest place you’ve dove? And what are some of the coolest things while diving that you’ve seen?
I’ve only been to this one island, it’s next to Aruba. It’s called Bonaire. It’s strictly only diving for the most part. A lot of shore dives and wrecks and stuff like that.
The coolest thing was — probably — one day we went down probably 60 feet, and there was this huge nurse shark just chilling around. They’re pretty much harmless, but just seeing it, you’re like, “Oh my gosh.” It’s crazy. Either that or last time we went, we saw this reef — they’re rebuilding the reefs down there from all the hurricanes and stuff — and we saw this one fish laying a ton of eggs. Like a ton of eggs, and they were protecting it. It was nuts to see how that happens and they do it right in front of you.
What are some of your goals for the pro day?
Pretty much, through working with John I was able to kind of get a baseline of what I have. So really I’m just trying to be consistent with how I approach everything, how I kick. Obviously I’d love to get great punts and good hang times. Just really focus on the consistency aspect of it because they say they don’t look for your best ball, they kind of look for how bad is your worst ball, because if your worst kick is 45 yards with a 4.2, 4.3 hang-time, you’re not going to kill the team. If you’re kicking it 20 yards they’re going to be like, “Well, this kid isn’t good enough.”
Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle