Home SoCal Coyote News SWEET FEET: NFL VET JOHN CARNEY AND THE SOCAL COYOTES’ #1 RANKED KICKING GAME

SWEET FEET: NFL VET JOHN CARNEY AND THE SOCAL COYOTES’ #1 RANKED KICKING GAME

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(PALM SPRINGS) – League-leading NFL prospects Daniel Parisi and Zack Kozlik are among the biggest weapons in the arsenal of the six-time champion SoCal Coyotes, who once again are back in playoff form – and poised for another deep run toward a seventh title.

Today, the coaches with America’s #1 Developmental Pro Football Program™ are all smiles, watching Parisi effortlessly kick touchbacks and drain 60-yard field goals – while Kozlik pins opponents with booming 63-yard punts and a suffocating 4.8-second hang time.

Yet the improbable tale of how the Coyotes landed Parisi, a record-setting, all-conference prospect out of tiny Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire; and Kozlik, a San Diego native via Chadron State in Nebraska, has more intrigue than a spy novel – and is a lifetime lesson in relationships, grit, tenacity and perseverance. 

For starters, before these new Coyotes went on the prowl, it took an abstract agent in Dallas, a kicking camp led by Super Bowl champion John Carney – who kicked for eight NFL teams – and a desperate phone call from Coyotes’ Hall of Fame head coach J David Miller. 

“We teach our players that relationships are life’s only real currency,” says Coach Miller. “This story is living proof. The screenwriter of The Replacements couldn’t have drummed up this many serendipitous plot lines, or a crazier cast of characters.” 

NFL Legend John Carney

It was early March, and the opening week of the Developmental Football International (DFI) spring season. The Coyotes had barely squeaked out a win over San Diego – but there was no joy in Mudville.

After 23 NFL seasons, John Carney now devotes his life to youth training and development

Eight trips to the red zone had resulted in zero points, and if not for a scoop-and-score fumble return for a touchdown, the Coyotes had risked their first opening-day loss in a decade. Most glaring was the dismal kicking game. Three alleged punts had netted 13 yards – and the kicker-less Coyotes had a better chance at a moon landing than converting a field goal.

The doors on the Coyotes team charter had barely hissed shut when Coach Miller in Seat 1A grabbed his cell phone and called long-time trusted friend Mark Seabaugh, a Dallas-based player agent with Sports Management Worldwide.

“I need a kicker and a punter, yesterday,” Coach Miller said. “Don’t you know John Carney?”

For certain, every NFL fan knows Carney – because over four decades, one of his game-winning kicks more than likely broke your heart. The former Notre Dame star played 23 years in the NFL, and kicked for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles Rams, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, and New York Giants. 

Carney set five NFL records, amassed 2,062 career points, and kicked professionally until the age of 46. Of course Coach Miller wasn’t calling for Carney himself – he was asking about Carney’s kicking camp, where the legend has created the Carney Training Facility, an environment that attracts the nation’s top young talent, and where the best NFL kickers go to train. 

“Let me see what I can do,” Seabaugh replied, hoping Carney might have an ace up his sleeve. 

Focus, Intellect, Selfless Commitment

Seabaugh called Miller back with a royal flush: Carney had recommended kicker Daniel Parisi, and punter/holder Zack Kozlik. The pair then requested the Coyotes sign their stablemate Brian Khoury, a veteran long-snapper who spent 2021 on the practice squad of none other than the New England Patriots. 

Before Coach Miller could say praise the Lord, the Coyotes special teams went from DFI’s worst – to first. 

Going into this weekend, Parisi leads all DFI kickers in touchbacks, PATs and field goals, including bombs of 60, 55, 48 and 47.  He has missed just once. 

Likewise, Kozlik has breathed life into the ‘Darkside Defense’ – repeatedly flipping the field with breathtaking mortar shots, including seven inside the ‘coffin corner.’ His long of 63 yards is a franchise record, as is his current 50.38 net average – if it holds through Saturday.

‘The Kid Has a Cannon’ 

Special teams have always been sacred to Coach Miller, whose coaching DNA includes influential strands from NFL coaches Hank Stram, June Jones and Jerry Glanville.

Coach Miller has co-authored best-selling books with all three coaches. All had deep respect for the focus, intellect, attention to detail, and total, tireless, selfless commitment special teams requires.

Historically, the Coyotes have enjoyed a great kicking game. Former University of Hawaii stars (kicker) Dan ‘Iceman’ Kelly and (punter) Alex Dunnachie played huge roles during three of the Coyotes’ six championship seasons. In 2018, a field goal from College of the Desert product Luis Castellano delivered another title.

In case you’re wondering – Kellly’s 63-yard field goal in 2015 is still the SoCal franchise record. It might be in peril, however, according to Coach Miller.

“From 65 (yards) or less, we won’t hesitate to send Danny (Parisi) out,” Miller said. “If we’ve got the wind behind us, even 70 might not be out of reach. This kid has a cannon, and he’s deadly accurate.”

Meet Daniel Parisi

Parisi, 5’11”, 185 pounds, grew up playing soccer in Georgetown, Massachusetts. When he was cut from his varsity high school soccer team his junior year, the shocked Parisi – who had never played a down of American football – tried booting footballs for the first time, and remarkably, his strong leg earned him a roster spot.

Parisi made the watchlist of the nation’s best kickers as a senior, converting 76-percent of his field goals

To promote himself, he attended college fairs, where he met the head coach at Saint Anselm College. Parisi talked his way into a tryout, and from there the young kicker caught fire. 

Pressure? No problem. In one game, Parisi kicked a 36-yarder in regular overtime; a 45-yard shot in double overtime; and a 43-yard howitzer in triple overtime. In another, the Forensic Science major broke seven school records in a single game, and earned all-conference accolades.

By his senior year, he made the vaunted Fred Mitchell Watch List of the nation’s top 21 kickers.

Next up was the Dream Bowl College All-Star Showcase in Virginia, where Parisi earned Special Teams Most Valuable Player. That caught the eye of Baltimore Ravens special teams coach Randy Brown, who worked him out, which led to a season with the Mill City Eagles, a minor league team in Massachusetts. 

When Parisi met John Carney at a Rhode Island kicking camp, he made a life-changing decision: He moved to Carlsbad, California, to train at Carney’s gym. 

“That’s the difference between bacon and eggs,” quips Coach Miller. “The chicken is involved, but the pig is committed. It’s one thing to talk about being great – quite another to back it up with sacrifice.”

The Coronado Kid 

Kozlik, 5’11”, 215 pounds, is a Navy brat, raised in San Diego, and graduate of Coronado High School. It’s easy to spot both the qualities of his military dad and schoolteacher mom – Kozlik is at once disciplined and nurturing, always eager to help others, with work ethic to spare. 

“There’s so much negativity in the modern culture,” Kozlik says. “I’ve always believed in helping others wherever and whenever I can. Positivity and kindness goes a long way.”

A perennial All-Conference selection at Chadron State, Kozlik is averaging a whopping 4.8-second hang time with the Coyotes

A football player since the fourth grade, Kozlik lives for the camaraderie of the sport. He calls himself ‘a big believer’ in the team atmosphere. “Good teams feed off of each other’s energy,” he says. “You can overcome any obstacle that is thrown your way. It’s why I love football so much – the brotherhood.”

After two years of junior college at Southwestern, Kozlik transferred to Chadron State, where he made an immediate impact. His first year he averaged 41.37 yards per punt; with 21 inside the 20, 10 fair catches, seven touchbacks, and nine punts of 50+ yards. 

Kozlik was named the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) Special Teams Player of the Week twice during the regular season, and ended the year as second team All-RMAC and the Omaha World-Herald All Midland First Team. 

Named the RMAC Preseason Special Teams Player of the Year his senior year, Kozlik didn’t disappoint, averaging 39.56 yards per punt; with 21 inside the 20, 14 fair catches, six touchbacks, and eight punts of 50+ yards.

Long Snappers: Made, not Born

Khoury, 6-3, 240, was originally a hockey player, but transitioned to football in college at Carnegie Mellon, where he played defensive end. Over four years, Khoury appeared in 39 games for the Tartans as a defensive end and registered some impressive numbers: 29.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and three blocked kicks. 

A Patriot in 2021, Khoury has captured the attention of numerous NFL teams during his Coyote tenure

The two-time UAA Defensive Player of the Year did not hear his name called during the 2017 draft, however, and decided to change positions to become a long snapper.

Long snappers are made, not born: By no stretch of the imagination is there anything ‘natural’ about what they do.

They begin each play by looking upside down, through their legs, then must spin bullets with the same speed and accuracy as a quarterback throwing a forward pass.

Khoury has mastered this technique, and his craft. His ‘snap time’ – the time it takes from when the ball leaves his hands, to either a holder or punter – are as good as any NFL starter.

He has improved with every stop: From a season with the Baltimore Ravens, to a one-year stint with the XFL, then last year with the Patriots and now this spring with the Coyotes.

The hottest game film in the Coyotes building might be Khoury’s – multiple NFL teams have worked him out, and he’s expected to sign before NFL training camps open in July.

‘The Patriot Way’

Special teams account for nearly 20 percent of all plays during a game. Few coaches are more maniacal about special teams than Bill Belichick, who believes special teams are the heart and soul of a team, the ideal way to establish culture, chemistry and toughness, and develop the talent of the entire roster.

Belichick’s first NFL job was special teams, under Detroit Lions head coach Rick Forzano, who also employed Jerry Glanville.

Hence special teams are the foundation of  ‘The Patriot Way’ – New England’s team-first ideals that underscore Belichick’s beliefs that there’s far more to football than individual awards and personal attention.

Coach Miller also believes special teams create an ‘all-in’ atmosphere, and when Khoury arrived with the Coyotes, he stressed to the locker room that players take advantage of Khoury’s experience.

“This is your opportunity,” Coach Miller told his troops, “to get to know Brian, ask him questions, soak up his experience, and get your piece of ‘The Patriot Way.'”

‘Next-Level Consistency’ 

Today, Kozlik makes his living as a strength and conditioning coach for up-and-coming athletes – but like Parisi, it was his meeting with John Carney that took his game to next-level consistency. 

“John really helped me understand how to better hone my power,” Kozlik says. “He taught me how to control it the way I need to in order to be more consistent. Sometimes I have to take some of the ‘drive’ out of my ball to put more hang time under it. 

“Mentally, he’s taught me how to stay calm in the face of pressure, and how to just do my thing, hit my ball, every time. Of course you have to work at it. Like life, you won’t achieve much if you don’t work for it – life gives you what you put into it.”

Under Carney’s tutelage, Parisi too believes he is NFL ready.  

“John has taught me the importance of blending my physical game and mental game,” he says. “This includes everything from my ‘swing thoughts’ to my backswing. 

“I am constantly elevating my game,” Parisi adds. “My mental game and consistency are my biggest strengths. Everyday I work on my mental game and try to improve it any way I can. I thrive under pressure.”

Faith, Family, Football

The faith-based Coyotes “have been a big positive for our guys,” says Carney, who notes the advantage of getting live game reps with America’s #1 Developmental Pro Football Program™. 

Punter Zack Kozlik, long snapper Brian Khoury and kicker Daniel Parisi personify tenacity, and perserverance

Unlike any other program in the nation, the Coyotes provide players ‘full scholarships,’ which cover insurance, equipment, facilities, transportation, employment opportunities, and of course, NFL, CFL, Arena, NCAA and NAIA relationships. 

“These guys are like a river that cuts through rocks – not just because of its power, but because of its perseverance,” Coach Miller says. “Obstacles are those frightful things we see when we take our eyes off the Lord – and the goals He’s given us for our lives, and talents.

“When we say ‘faith, family, football’ – we couldn’t have three better young men who personify our mission.”

A ‘Life-Changing’ Football Odyssey

Kozlik believes the Coyotes are his best opportunity “to prove myself, to demonstrate all the work I’ve put in to get to the next level. I’m extremely grateful for that.” 

Parisi, who often volunteers for community projects like ‘Relay for Life’ and the ‘Be The Match’ bone marrow registry drive, loves that his 3,000-mile football odyssey has landed him with a life-changing non-profit organization.

“The Coyotes are more than just a great opportunity to get game film and live reps,” Parisi says. “The opportunity to play for the SoCal Coyotes is everything I could’ve imagined. To glorify God and play for this prestigious organization is truly an honor.” 

-GM Scott Alvarez ([email protected])

ABOUT THE SOCAL COYOTES

The SoCal Coyotes’ 501c3 and award-winning ‘Above The Line™’ leadership programs impact the social, mental and physical growth of more than 50,000 youth annually through remedial curriculum, training camps, clinics and symposia.

The six-time champion SoCal Coyotes are the 2021 California Non-Profit of the Year, and the national standard of American developmental football. The Coyotes’ organization provides elite athletes a professional environment that refines and showcases their skills through trademarked processes similar to the NBA’s G-league and MLB’s minor-league systems.

NFL executives have named the SoCal Coyotes organization America’s #1 Developmental Football Program™ for its national, scalable brands, community outreach programs, 10-year operational track record, verifiable data, youth curriculum, sales, public-private sector alliances, and measured results.

 

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