Former Derry Under 20 footballer Jude McAtamney has signed as a placekicker for Rutgers University, he announced on his social media this morning.
McAtamney previously played for Chowan University in North Carolina, and will now transfer to Division 1 football and the prestigious Big 10 conference.
The Derry native has followed the same path to college football kicking as his Kerry compatriot David Shanahan. Both youngsters worked with the elite ProKick program out of Melbourne, who train and promote promising kickers in order to earn them scholarships to play stateside. Due to covid restrictions Jude was unable to physically travel down under to train, instead opting to work closely with Shanahan in the US when circumstances allowed.
McAtamney’s recruitment to Rutgers brings to 3 the number of Irish kickers competing at the elite Division 1 Football level; David Shanahan is playing for Georgia Tech while Ben Kiernan is the starting punter for the University of North Carolina. Both teams compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference. And while Kiernan and Shanahan are set to duel once again in November, it’s unlikely the Ulsterman will face either team this season, unless of course the Bowl game gods see fit.
Today’s news serves to remind us just how remarkable it is that this tiny island can continue to produce the sort of talented athletes that garner attention at the top flight of American collegiate athletics.
We wish Jude all the best in his endeavors and we’ll be keeping a close eye on all three when the season gets underway in September!