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Loy's whirlwind trek leads to SEC offer
He dropped his childhood sport to embark on a whirlwind journey complete with setbacks, top-level private lessons and a training trip to Australia.
When a football program from the powerhouse Southeastern Conference offered a full scholarship, all of Sam Loy’s decisions paid off.
“Not a lot of (kickers/punters) get offers, but when you do, it’s definitely a good blessing,” said Loy, Santa Margarita’s 6-foot-2, 185-pound punter who committed to Vanderbilt in late November.
“I feel very honored. … For me to get offered and it being in the SEC, is definitely amazing.”
Loy also has been offered by Army, Air Force and Navy. He has been recruited by several other schools, including Michigan, which at last check, remains in pursuit.
Loy's passion growing up was soccer but he tried out for kicker as a freshman at San Clemente because of his lack of stature on the pitch.
“At the time, I was 4-foot-11,” he said.
Loy made the freshman squad, spending most of maiden football season as the kicker/punter on the B team.
Loy also started training as freshman with private kicking guru Brad Bohn of West Coast Kicking. He also has worked with West Coast coach Taylor Kunzi on punting.
As a sophomore at San Clemente, Loy competed with senior Blake Gonzalez for kicking duties. Loy got his chance midseason after Gonzalez, now at Boise State, suffered an injury. Loy also punted much of his sophomore season.
An injury limited Loy’s chance at the limelight the following fall. He broke his leg in his third game but returned during the Tritons’ playoff run to CIF Southwest Division finals.
Loy said one positive from the injury was that it helped him focus more on academics.
He transferred to Santa Margarita for his senior season for a variety reasons, including a job change for his father.
This past season, he emerged as a standout, earning first-team All-County honors as a punter. He averaged just over 40 yards per punt and sent 15 of his 35 punts inside the 20.
Loy also excelled on kickoffs, posting a 98 percent touchback clip during the regular season.
His grade-point average also is an important number. He carries a 3.8.
Vanderbilt recruited Loy to punt, and perhaps for kickoffs, but his arsenal also includes the Aussie punting style. Punters using this technique, the senior said, kick the ball on the nose for more control and sometimes rollout before the kick.
Loy said he uses the Aussie style on shorter punts, aimed to pin an opponent deep in its territory.
Loy has trained the Aussie style under Nathan Chapman, a former professional Australian rules football player. Loy traveled Down Under this past spring and trained with Chapman for 12 days.
The trip led to Loy being included on a national week-long tour of top punters in July led by NFL Hall of Fame punter Ray Guy of the Raiders.
Yes, that was an important trip to Australia.
“I went to train with (Chapman), learn a little bit more and add stuff to my kicking,” Loy said. “It’s definitely good to have the diversity.”
And that SEC scholarship offer.