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Doyle pursues one dream, sets aside another
Former FHS star soccer player to walk-on as punter at MTSU despite ‘lifelong dream’ of playing at UT


Aaron Doyle followed his heart when picking a college sport. But he followed his head when choosing a college address.

Though one of the best high school soccer players in the state — leading Farragut to a national title last spring in addition to a pair of state titles — Doyle will attempt to become a college football punter but will bypass his beloved University of Tennessee Vols and walk-on at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro.


“I grew up a UT fan,” Doyle said. “I’ve always wanted to attend UT, when I was thinking about punting UT was always on my mind just to walk-on and just, at least, wear their uniform. That’s something I’ve always been interested in.”

However, “UT has the Colquitts (punters Dustin and Britton), there’s no way I’d be able to pull off a starting position,” Doyle added. “(MTSU) just had more open slots and they encourage walk-ons, and it’s D-1 (Division I, a major college school), that’s what I wanted.”

In addition, “I’m a mama’s boy, I like staying close to Knoxville and still playing D-1,” he added.

Doyle’s 41.6 yard punting average in 10 FHS games last fall — 43 punts, longest of 66 yards — earned him both All-Region 2-5A and All-Knoxville area honors.

But because Doyle only punted one year in high school, “that wasn’t enough to generate interest,” said Mike Doyle, Aaron’s father. “I don’t know why. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”

Assuming the Admirals’ place-kicking duties after recovering from a groin injury, Doyle was perfect in seven games: he made all 10 extra points and all six of his field-goal attempts (longest, 47 yards).

His most famous kick was a 37-yard field goal with less than a minute to play to give FHS a 10-7 victory against archrival Bearden.

Why punting as opposed to place-kicking? “I just don’t think I have a strong enough leg for (place)-kicking,” Aaron said. “Hopefully I do for punting.”

The talented 5-foot-11, 170 pound Doyle, who turns 19 later this month, earned high praise from FHS head football coach Eddie Courtney.

“I think what separates people like him, he’s very confident in his abilities in a positive way, which allows him to be kind of relaxed when he does compete,” Courtney said. “I think that the more he works in college, as far as just the finer points and the fundamentals, that he’ll get stronger.

“I’m certainly proud of him ... he’s a very gifted athlete, he’s worked hard to improve on his abilities to kick and punt.”

FAMILY BACKING

Mike Doyle said he and Aaron’s mother, Lisa, are solidly behind their son’s pursuit of major college punting.

“He’s going to try and follow his dream here, so we’re just going to turn him loose and see what he can do,” Mike said. “I think he’s a good punter.”

Doyle has enrolled at MTSU and will begin classes this fall. Mike Doyle said he’s had “an ongoing dialog” with the MTSU coaches about whether Aaron will become an invited walk-on, which in theory gives a walk-on more privileges and opportunities versus a regular walk-on.

FALL BACK ON SOCCER?

“If that doesn’t (work), then he may fall back on soccer,” Mike said. “We have several soccer programs that have told us that if the football thing falls through, you got a place.”

The elder Doyle listed Western Kentucky and Queens College of Charlotte, N.C., among those schools interested.

Queens has already snagged former FHS stars Michael Henson and Bruce Mottern, and former Bearden stars Demetrius Donald, Matt Herbstritt and Todd Vinsant.

 

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