St. Mary’s Tommy Doman, the best punter in the state, to kick for Wolverines
Dec 18, 2020
ORCHARD LAKE — Tommy Doman’s dreams have come true.
Note the plural. Dreams. There have been more than one, and they’ve all come to fruition this year amidst the nightmare of the pandemic raging throughout the country.
Doman, a 6-foot-3, 185-pound senior at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Preparatory, is the best high school punter and kicker in the state of Michigan, and in the United States, he’s ranked the No. 2 punter and No. 6 field goal kicker.
He’s 18, but he remembers the fascination he had as a youngster watching kickers and punters. “Year after year, I watched these specialists and studied what made them great. I did some research and was sort of coaching myself,” he said. “My hope was to play in the NFL someday.”
By seventh grade, he was attending camps specializing in kicking that evolved into a year-round routine through his senior year.
At the University of Michigan camps, he developed a relationship with specialists coach Tyler Brown that inspired the dream of attending U of M. “That had always been on my mind to ‘Go Blue.’ I always felt welcome there. It has a great academic program, and it’s only 45 minutes from home.”
In April, head coach Jim Harbaugh offered Doman, who had verbally committed in his junior year, a full scholarship. This week, on Dec. 16, Doman made the commitment official during a signing day ceremony.
“I understand,” Doman said, “that Michigan only gives scholarships to specialists like kickers once every four years.”
In October, another childhood dream was realized: an invitation to play in the All American Bowl in San Antonio in January. Only 100 players from across the country are invited to play. Doman — one of five players from Michigan, the only one from the Catholic League — was selected as a punter.
The game, which had been held for 20 years, has been canceled because of COVID-19 concerns. However, Doman will be celebrated as part of a special two-hour “All-American Bowl: Declaration Day” honoring each of this year’s 100 All-Americans on Saturday, Jan. 2, on NBC Sports.
Doman’s performances drew rave reviews at various kicking camps he attended: “His punting consistency might be the best in the country ... he makes field goals look easy ... more technically polished than anyone else ... an incredible athlete with off-the-charts all-around college potential ... currently the #1 Combo (kickoffs, punting, field goals) Prospect in the nation without a doubt.”
In addition to Michigan, the top 10 colleges that had contacted Doman included Air Force, Army, Boston College, Colorado State, Dartmouth, Navy, Penn, Washington State and Western Michigan.
In three years on St. Mary’s varsity, Doman averaged 40-plus yards on punts with 4-second hang times, rarely didn’t kick the ball out of the end zone on kickoffs to eliminate runbacks, and converted 20 of 29 field goal attempts, one of them a 53-yard school record-setter this fall to better a 50-yard kick he made as a sophomore.
The Eaglets had a 2-4 record in a season that started three weeks later than usual and had two cancellations, all COVID-19 related, meaning that Doman had more down time.
When he was a kid, Doman recalls times when he would kick a ball 100, maybe even 200 times a week.
“In high school, I learned to pace myself, much like a pitcher on a pitch count,” he said. He adapted some of his off-season training regimen, focusing on exercises to maintain explosiveness, flexibility and balance along with some kicking and resting.
The secret of his success, Doman says, “is keep it simple. Don’t overthink.”
Doman, who carries a 3.9 GPA, is thinking of becoming an orthodontist.
But then, there’s that other dream: the NFL.
Contact Don Horkey at email@example.com.