Bruce Adams, Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, August 13, 2005
There were no exotic destinations for 26-year-old world traveler David Lonie this summer. The Australia native stayed in Berkeley to work on his kicking. Cal's punter when the Bears went with a three-man kicking game last year will take over kickoff duties this season. Before trying his hand at football, Lonie traveled to the United States, Canada, Europe and the Pacific Islands -- surfing, water skiing and snowboarding.
He eventually tried football and landed at Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls, Iowa, where he handled the punts, kickoffs and field goals. He transferred to Cal last year, with coach Jeff Tedford even making a recruiting visit to his parents Down Under. But after routinely putting kickoffs in the end zone in junior college, he seemingly lost his touch at Cal.
"My approach was a little fast and I was leaning back coming into the ball," he said.
So he practiced over the summer, staying in Berkeley with the rest of the team for summer conditioning. He broke down his kicking stroke the way a golfer breaks down his swing.
It turned out to be time well spent. Shortly before training camp opened, Lonie learned that last year's kickoff man, Anthony Binswanger, told coaches he was leaving school to transfer to City College of San Francisco -- where he would get a chance to kick field goals as well. "In the summer, I worked on getting my approach to the ball right, following through it and trying to drive the ball," Lonie said. "I'm just going to focus on getting a consistent connection on the ball."
Last year, Lonie averaged 40 yards per punt, with seven going more than 50 yards and 22 landing inside the 20-yard line. Sophomore Tom Schneider will continue kicking field goals. He was 9-for- 16 last year, his longest from 48 yards. He was 56-for-57 in points after touchdowns.
Binswanger kicked off 73 times in the regular season last year as a freshman. He had 15 touchbacks. Lonie said there's a little more wear on the body in kicking off.
"You're planting so hard that your plant leg is taking a jarring," he said. That shouldn't be a problem for Lonie, a middle-distance track man and soccer player in high school who takes pride in his physical conditioning. In the sprints after practices, he runs with the "speed" players and often is the top finisher.
He says he likes to push his limits, as well as play a leadership role. "The other guys see me doing it, and they don't want to be beat by a kicker," he said.
Briefly: Cal has sold 38,000 season tickets and expects to top out at 40, 000 -- the most in the Tedford era. Last year officials said they sold 33, 000 season tickets, 22,500 in 2003 and 16,200 in 2002. The USC game is sold out. ... Players will have full contact today for the first time in camp. ... All-America center Marvin Philip said that as camp began he was uncertain about the nature of this year's team. "Coming in, the big question was how the team was going to respond," he said. After one week of practice, Philip is impressed. "This is probably one of the most talented teams we've had here at Cal," he said.