Post Classifieds


By Andrew Fulford
On March 9, 2012


It's safe to say that senior Long Ding doesn't have a case of pteromerhanophobia, which is a fear of being on an airplane while it is in flight.

In the past few weeks alone, he's taken a day trip to Maryland, as well as a flight to Arkansas and New Jersey for separate weekend trips.

It's not exactly a normal routine for a Norwich University college student, but then Ding has a skill that sets him apart from all his classmates – and sends him traveling a lot. The highly regarded kicker for the Norwich football team is pursuing a chance to extend his kicking career at the highest level of play, in the NFL.

"I just want to show the NFL (National Football League) that I have the ability to kick at that level," said Ding, 24, an accounting major from Qin Dao, China.

Ding finished his senior season with a 13-for-16 record in field goal attempts, and this season he booted a season-long kick of 51 yards. His first chance to show the NFL his talent was in the middle of January, when Ding traveled to Maryland for the day to work with former NFL kicker Matt Stover.

Ding kicked for three hours under the watchful eye of Stover, who, according to Ding, gave him "positive feedback."

"They had me kick from all over the field and work on my balance," Ding said in his quiet and confident manner. "The best part of the whole experience was the fact they had a camera to film all my kicks."

Ding has never had the opportunity to watch his kicks on video, which allowed him to see and correct his flaws. "It was great, after I kicked I could go back and look at the film and make corrections that I wouldn't be able to do without a camera."

He described the events of that day as "crazy". He woke up at four in the morning and by 7 a.m., he was on a plane to Maryland. He did not get back to campus until the wee hours of the morning, but he said the day provided invaluable information he can use to work toward a future in the NFL.

Brandon Metz, 18, a business major from Coral Springs, Fla., and football teammate, said  it didn't take long for Ding to start training for this opportunity.

"He has been practicing every day," Metz said. "When the season ended he was out on the field kicking that next Monday."

His incredible work ethic was something his teammates talk about in awe, as they recalled seeing him on the field hours before practice was even set to begin.

Offensive lineman Anthony Mushaw recollects watching film before practice and seeing Ding kicking on the game field.

 "Before practice we would see him on the game field kicking balls and retrieving them by himself," said Mushaw, 20, a civil engineering major from Scotia, N.Y.

Ding's workout regimen consists of spending many hours a week lifting in the gym and kicking in Shapiro Field House.

"I usually kick four days a week and lift three times," the two-time Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) Special Teams Player of the Year said. "I want to put myself in the best possible position to succeed."

Ding had another opportunity to showcase his skills on Jan. 4 in Little Rock, Ark. He was one of six Div. III players to participate in the Players' All-Star Classic football game that featured talent from every division of college football.

Ding had a monster performance hitting four-of-five field goals and earning the award as special teams player of the game. His success at a national level was no surprise to his teammates.

"Ding's success is no fluke," said Matthew Gallagher, 20, an offensive lineman and sophomore criminal justice major from Morris Plains, N.J. "Every time he steps onto the field he expects to make every kick, and more times than not he's successful."

While Ding relishes in making the big kick, his teammates know that he will be the last person to boast about his accomplishments.

"I just did my job, it was nothing special," is how Ding describes his on-field success for the Cadets. The comfort that Ding would continuously do his job was a great security blanket for the Norwich offense this season.

"Ding made it so the offense can relax," said Rob Sturgis, 21, an offensive lineman and senior communications major from Holden, Mass., "knowing that we can get stopped and still kick a 50 yarder."

But not all of the success can be attributed to Ding, and he will be the first to say so. In order to effectively convert a field goal or an extra point you need to have a high-quality snap and hold.

"The holder is the key to the whole process," Ding said. "If you have a bad holder you don't know where the ball will be put down every time, so you have to change your spots."

Ding credited teammate Zac Angelos for his consistency as the holder for his two seasons in Northfield. "Professional caliber" is how Ding described Angelos' ability to put the ball where he wants it.

"We have built a good relationship after two seasons together," said Ding. While Ding is pursuing his goal of reaching the NFL he has become an inspiration for his now former teammates to put in the extra work in the offseason.

"I think it shows that you never know where talent is going to come," Metz said. "Whether you are a Div. I, II, or III athlete if you put the time in then you never know what can happen."

"He works too hard and has too much desire to be denied a shot at kicking in the NFL," he said.

Ding's last chance to electrify NFL scouts was on Feb. 26 at the New York Jets facility in East Rutherford, N.J. He boarded a plane to attend the special teams only event, looking to wow them one more time.

"All the kickers going are great kickers," Ding said. "I just need the opportunity to show that I can perform at an elite level."

Sturgis said he would be "shocked" if Ding wasn't the best performer at the combine under the watchful eyes of the men who judge NFL talent.

"I would bet my house that Ding is the hardest -working kicker in the country and that will show this weekend," Sturgis said. "I would be shocked if he doesn't have the best performance of all the kickers at the combine."

Before Ding left for New Jersey he shared what he thought of two historic seasons at Norwich which left him in the top three in career points, field goals and extra points, and made him one of only three Cadets' place-kickers to hit three field goals in one game.

"My first year I didn't do that well because I joined a new team," said the always humble Ding. "It was a pretty tough adjustment for me in that first year."

Ding credited being more comfortable around the team this year as being a catalyst that allowed him to put up eye-popping numbers in the 2011 season. And to no one's surprise he saved his best performance for the biggest game of the season, the conference championship.

On Nov. 5, the Cadets traveled to Bronx, N.Y., and defeated the host team SUNY-Maritime 16-9 to clinch their second conference championship in three seasons. In that game, Ding went 3-3 in field goal attempts making kicks of 51, 36, and 38 yards respectively.

"We had the trip to SUNY and I feel it was my best game I had while at Norwich," Ding said. "I hit three important field goals to help win the championship."

Ding's top-notch performance may have shocked a lot of people, but not his fellow maroon and gold-clad teammates.

"A lot of people were shocked with the 51-yarder, but not us," Mushaw said. "He hits those regularly in practice when extra is running on the line; we had all the confidence in the world in him."

Gallagher seconded his teammate's comments and said that Ding has a mentality that he will hit every field goal.

"Ding was our unsung hero all season long by putting up points for us that we would not have been able to convert in recent years," he said. "He also saved some touchdowns for us by making tackles on the kickoff team, he can do it all."

Despite all these big-time performances, accolades, and all-star games you will never hear Ding boast about his achievements. All you will hear him talk about is one thing, "doing his job."

Get Top Stories Delivered Weekly

Recent The Norwich Guidon News Articles

Discuss This Article



Log In

or Create an account

Employers & Housing Providers

Employers can list job opportunities for students

Post a Job

Housing Providers can list available housing

Post Housing

Log In

Forgot your password?

Your new password has been sent to your email!

Logout Successful!

Please Select Your College/University:

You just missed it! This listing has been filled.

Post your own housing listing on Uloop and have students reach out to you!

Upload An Image

Please select an image to upload
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format
Provide URL where image can be downloaded
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format