This story appears in FCA Magazine’s November/December 2015 issue. Subscribe today!
Born: April 18, 1990
Hometown: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Height/Weight: 6-1/225 lbs.
• In 2014, led the NFL in gross punting average with 47.5 yards per punt
• Voted Washington’s 2015 Special Teams Captain by his teammates
“You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy…” – 1 Peter 1:8
I’m the middle child of a sports- and Jesus-loving family from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Growing up, we had this big blue van that was basically a traveling closet for my two brothers and me. We literally had to change in the car from game to game, some Saturdays playing up to four games between our hockey, basketball, baseball, soccer and football schedules. It was a fun way to spend a childhood, and my parents had a great time doing it, too.
My mom and dad always dropped us off at Sunday school, and afterwards we would sit with them in “big church.” When I was 13, my little brother and I prayed to receive Christ at a youth group retreat. Even though I invited Jesus into my heart then, my spiritual walk really didn’t start until a little after that, when my brother and I were invited by our teammates to join FCA. That’s really where God grabbed ahold of my heart, and I grew and learned so much about the Lord.
On the sports side of things, I realized early on I had been blessed with an incredible left leg. Even though I was more interested in playing baseball, I received much more attention for punting footballs than fielding ground balls. When Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops called to offer me a scholarship, it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down.
My FCA involvement continued at OU, where I was asked to be on the leadership team as a freshman. I also met a cute softball and soccer player named Brianna Turang and, after developing a friendship with her, I worked up the nerve to ask her out. The rest is history, as a couple years later we were married.
It’s so fun now to be an “FCA couple.” We were both involved in FCA for a long time, met there, and we can’t wait to get our kids into FCA one day. It’s been such a huge part of our lives. God working through FCA is honestly the reason I live my life the way I do.
Back on the gridiron, once my collegiate career came to a close, I signed an undrafted rookie free agent contract with the Chicago Bears in 2013. I was blown away that I even got the opportunity to compete for a spot on the roster, but ultimately they released me. The entire experience was a real challenge, because for the first time in my life—on a big scale—I felt like I was being told I wasn’t good enough. It was so discouraging, in fact, that I decided I was going to quit playing football and go back to Oklahoma.
Once I was back with my family and friends, they began encouraging me to not completely give up the dream of playing in the NFL. I had been so close; why not keep pursuing it?
I turned down a sales position and instead accepted a part-time job speaking around the state for Oklahoma FCA. I’d speak on behalf of the ministry at local schools 12 to 13 times each week, and still have time to work out and be ready for the next interested NFL team to call.
That team just happened to be the Bears once again, following the 2013 season. I went back to Chicago and was punting the ball better than ever before. My confidence was high, but they cut me once again prior to the 2014 season.
Deflating as that was, I felt like something else was going to be coming my way. It was just a few hours later when the Washington Redskins called, wanting me to come try out. I punted well during my 10-day tryout for them and became their starting punter in 2014.
In the two seasons I’ve now been with Washington, I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve grown up and developed close relationships with guys on my team and learned so much from them. Being in the NFL locker room has also given me the chance to live out my faith, being there for my teammates just like Christ has called us to do in loving and caring for our neighbors.
Every day, God continues to show me that I must simply love and seek Him first, and then watch Him take care of everything else.
–This article appears in the November/December 2015 issue of FCA Magazine. To view the issue digitally, click here: November/December 2015 FCA Mag Digital
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Photos courtesy of the Washington Redskins