Living the Dream: The Eddy Carmona Story

Eddy Carmona - Pro Day at UCA (via RockyNoe)

One of the hardest struggles a small school athlete has to overcome is the fact that he didn’t play against major college football teams. As a Division 2 or Division 3 player, most everyone writes off a player because of the fact that they didn’t play a tough level of competition. Well that is not always the case when it comes to kickers and punters. Some of the best punters and kickers have come from small schools. Guys like Dan Carpenter, Rob Bironas, Brian Moorman and Matt Turk all came from small schools. There is even a punter that has never played a snap of college football, in Sav Rocca of the Redskins. So that just goes to show you that it doesn’t matter what school you come from or level of competition, if you can kick a ball. Well a player that you will be hearing about soon, is a kicker/punter from a small school in Arkansas who was just signed by an NFL club.

Harding University has only had a few NFL players in their school’s history. The last one to make an NFL roster was Torrance Daniels the cornerback who played for several NFL teams from the years 2006-2009. Daniels won a Super Bowl with the New York Giants in 2008, and is the last player to make it on an NFL roster from Harding. Well no need to fear, there is a very special kicker here. Eddy Carmona, a native of Charleston, Ark., was one of seven free agents signed by the Raiders after they participated on a tryout basis in the team rookie mini-camp a few weeks ago. Carmona played his first three seasons at the University of Central Arkansas before transferring to Harding as a senior. In the 2011 season, Carmona averaged 38.3 yards per punt, made 46-of-49 PATs and 10-of-13 field goals, including a Harding-record 62-yard field goal against East Central.

All the way up to 13 years old Eddy Carmona was a very special soccer player in Mexico. Carmona grew up playing with Mexican sensation Giovanni Dos Santos for Fuerzas Basicas de Tigres, which is basically a team of the best of the best young children coming up in soccer in Monterrey. The professional team is a very good team and is the greatest players from Monterrey. Little Eddy’s life would change in 2001, when his family made a major family decision.

Carmona’s family came to United States from Monterrey, Mexico when Eddy was just 13 years old. Eddy’s mother Angelica had family who lived in Arkansas for almost 30 years, and Eddy’s father Alfonso’s side of the family all had their VISA’s and could come and see the Carmona family in Arkansas, so the family felt it was best for them to move. When Eddy and his two siblings began school they needed a tutor and because Arkansas was a 2A school they really didn’t have an instructor to help kids with English. Eddy began practicing his English with a tutor. One day the tutor and Eddy took a trip to the football field. Alfonso, Eddy’s father had been telling the tutor that he wanted his son to play futbol and signed little Eddy up for the team. The problem was Futbol in Spanish means soccer, not football. When the 5’9 Eddy showed up to practice he noticed everyone was really big, and had pads. Eddy wasn’t sure if he wanted to play American Football, because the kids were massive to him. The coach watched Eddy kicking the ball and asked Eddy to play as the teams kicker.

"I didn’t know what a kicker was, but I told coach if he could get my dad to agree I would play. Coach went to my house and talked with my parents, because they really didn’t want me to get hurt. "Coach told them I would not be hit, I would just be the kicker, so my parents said it would be fine, since the school didn’t have a soccer program."

In his 8th grade year Eddy used to just kick the ball off, and never really attempted field goals, but in his second year as a Freshman, Eddy began to learn the concept of Football and began having a passion for it.

"The first year, I remember my teammates putting the ball on a tee and saying just kick it as far as I could". They would go on to say, you just have to kick it through the uprights, which is how I really learned how to play the game."

Eddy was very successful in high school football. He earned a scholarship to play for Central Arkansas for three years before transferring Harding where he received a scholarship as well. Eddy was no joke at Harding and earned All-GAC and ALL-Region Honors in 2011 as a kicker and punter. After the season, Eddy began training super tough for the NFL Draft hoping to hear his name, even though he knew it would be a long shot since kickers and punters are not usually a hot topic on draft day. After the draft, Eddy was steadily waiting by his phone to hear that ring, but it didn’t come right away.

Sitting at the dining room table of his girlfriend’s grandparent’s house one day, Eddy’s phone rang. Eddy looked at his phone and noticed a Texas number, he immediately began hoping that it was either the Dallas Cowboys or Houston Texans, but it was neither. Instead, it was Coach Steve Hoffman of the Oakland Raiders. Coach told him, listen I think you have a good kicking style, you remind me of a young David Akers. After sending Coach some film, Eddy just sat and waited patiently. It wasn’t but two days later and the phone rang again, it was coach again, extending Eddy a workout with the Oakland Raiders. Eddy’s dream was becoming a reality, Eddy knew he had three days to impress the staff in Oakland and was hoping to do so. When he looked at his plane ticket he had a return flight. So not knowing, he packed a couple pairs of boxers, a couple t-shirts and a couple pairs of jeans. After a very impressive workout with the Raiders, he was signed. Eddy was so excited, he finally made it.

"I said thank you to coach and asked him when I needed to return because I had a return flight, he said you’re not going home, we have OTA’s at six in the morning, I was so pumped, I didn’t care, I told him I will wear Wal-Mart clothes until my family sends me my clothes."

Carmona understands that he has a huge path in front of him, with one of the best left footed kickers in the NFL in front of him with Sebastian Janikowski. Carmona said "I am just so thankful for this opportunity, I am really blessed to just get this tryout with the Raiders, and I promise I will make the best of it." Carmona is a 5’9 kicker who was born in Mexico and hopes to be the next Latino to put his country on the map. There have been quite a bit of talented kickers who are of the Hispanic culture. We all remember the Gramatica brothers from Argentina, and the Zendeja’s family from Mexico, but the new name to remember is Carmona. Eddy is hoping for the same success as both the Gramatica and Zendeja’s family members had.

"This is really a dream come true. Since I understood football, my dream was to play in the NFL. It is a huge accomplishment for me and my family. I would like to thank everyone who has helped me in my path from Charleston, Arkansas all the way to Harding University. I won't let you down."

Harding Bison Eddy Carmona 62-yard field goal.m4v (via HardingSports)

If you like Eddy Carmona's story make sure you follow me on twitter @drocksthaparty for more updates of the left footed stud kicker.

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