Former Australian plumber turned punter finding his comfort zone at UConn

Storrs — Luke Magliozzi possesses a strong leg, admirable work ethic and a healthy sense of humor.

All three traits have aided Magliozzi in his adjustment to college football life.

Magliozzi has come light years in his development since leaving Australia last August to join the UConn program.

"When I first got here, I didn't know how to put on a helmet or pads, so that was pretty crazy," Magliozzi said. "I had no idea about American football. I didn't know the rules. I didn't know what a safety was."

A 6-foot-3, 210-pound redshirt freshman, Magliozzi is finally starting to settle into a comfort zone.

After winning the starting punter's job, Magliozzi has looked impressive in his first two college games. He ranks first in the American Athletic Conference and is tied for fifth in the nation with a 46.5 yards per attempt average.

In Saturday's 62-7 road loss to Boise State, Magliozzi boomed four kicks of least 50 yards, including one that went for 59.

"I'm feeling a lot more calm and collected," Magliozzi said. "I know what I have to do and I know I can do it and I feel a lot more confident."

Coach Randy Edsall, whose Burton Family Football Complex office window overlooks the Shenkman Training Facility, has seen Magliozzi working overtime on his craft. He called his punter a great role model.

"Luke is a great story and a great testament for hard work," Edsall said. "That's the reason he is what he is, because of how hard he's worked. ... There's nobody that put in the time and effort that he did, so it's not surprising to me to see him have the success that he's had so far.

"Plus, he's a little bit older and more mature than a lot of those other guys. ... He appreciates the opportunity that he has. He's got a lot of pride in himself and he wants to be good. If you want to be good, you've got to work at it, and that's what he did. Every guy on our team could go and talk to Luke about what it takes to be good."

Magliozzi's catalog of life experiences is much larger than his fellow Huskies. He's the old man of a young team, about to turn 25 years old on Oct. 11.

A former Australian Rules Football player, Magliozzi worked five years as a plumber before making a drastic change in his career path. He reached out to Nathan Chapman, who runs Prokick Australia, an outfit that trains punters and kickers for potential opportunities to play on the collegiate or pro level.

Chapman told Magliozzi that he had a shot to play Division I football.

"I thought he was full of it, to tell you the truth," Magliozzi said. "I went home and talked to Dad and told him. And he said, 'Yes, you want to do it, do it.' Six months passed and I was at UConn. It's crazy looking back a year where I was."

At first, moving from Westmeadows, Australia, to Storrs was like landing on a different planet. Magliozzi watched the Madden football video game to help him better understand the sport. He benefited from sitting out as a redshirt last season.

"I think redshirting was the best thing for me," Magliozzi said. "Getting to know my teammates a little bit better, just getting a little more comfortable and also adjusting to America itself. Right now, I feel more comfortable back there. It's working out pretty well."

Being a college student after a long break from school is his biggest adjustment.

An applied and resource economics major at UConn, Magliozzi admits that he never embraced homework in his previous academic life.

"I never used to do homework, to tell you the truth," Magliozzi said. "Now I want to do homework, which is crazy. My mom (asked), 'what are you doing,' when I called her in the middle of the night. I told her I'm doing homework. She was like, 'what?' So it's big change."

His ultimate goal is to play in the NFL. Australians Cameron Johnston and Michael Dickson secured jobs with Philadelphia and Seattle, respectively.

Magliozzi takes great pride in representing his country.

"I've been telling the (UConn) equipment guys that I want the Australian flag on the back of my helmet," Magliozzi said. "I feel pretty proud about it. Everybody back home is cheering me on."

No matter what happens in his future, Magliozzi has no plans to resume his career as a plumber.

"I'm retired," Magliozzi said. "I put the tools away. There was an issue with the water fountain in the gym and I just ran away."

News and notes

• Edsall made some changes to the depth chart for Saturday's game against FCS foe Rhode Island at Rentschler Field. Freshman Jeremy Lucien is the starting cornerback while redshirt sophomore Eddie Hahn is a starting linebacker and sophomore Darrian Beavers switched from linebacker to back-up defensive end. ... Starting safety Omar Fortt is considered doubtful this week due to a concussion. ... Rhode Island is off to its best start since 2005, posting wins over Albany (45-26) and at nationally-ranked Delaware (21-19).

g.keefe@theday.com

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