Q&A: Ryan Donahue

BY SETH ROBERTS | APRIL 29, 2011 7:20 AM

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The first round of the 2011 NFL draft is over, but plenty of former Hawkeyes, including punter Ryan Donahue, are still looking for a home. Donahue, a 2010 Ray Guy Award finalist and owner of two of the five-longest punts in school history, is widely expected to get picked somewhere in Saturday's late rounds.

The Daily Iowan got Donahue on the phone for an interview on Wednesday.

DI: What have the last few months been like for you?

Donahue: Kind of chaotic. It's definitely out of the ordinary — usually in college the past four years, I've been doing spring ball and stuff like that. It kind of takes you out of your element when you're expected to perform at midseason level during the spring. That's what NFL teams want to see — they want to see you at your best.

It definitely throws you off a little, but you have to revamp your training schedule, and you have to acclimate. It's different, but it's the nature of the beast.

DI: What have you been hearing from teams — has anybody expressed an interest?

Donahue: Teams have expressed interest, [but] I don't imagine a whole lot of teams will be drafting punters. There's only like two or three every year, and last year, you'll see that zero kickers were even taken. It could be something like that.

You never really know with the NFL. You're there for them; hopefully, you turn someone's head and prove to just one club that you belong, and hopefully, they'll take as shot at you.

DI: What about free agency?

Donahue: I should hope [I end up somewhere]. Through free agency, I'm really hopeful. There's a lot of free-agent interest in me — I've been in contact with teams that have definitely expressed interest if I fall through the draft.

Obviously, the No. 1 goal is to get drafted. If not, you have to take it from there. It's been a crazy year with the lockout and free agency — right now, there are no rules in the NFL, so it's very interesting how certain teams are going about it. You just wait for the NFL to figure itself out before it can start figuring you out.

DI: Talking about the lockout, have you thought about a backup plan?

Donahue: What I'm going to do is keep training, keep performing my craft, and trying to excel. I have to keep going at it. I'll probably get myself a part-time job to keep myself afloat, but my mind is still going to be on training and trying to make it at the next level.

DI: Looking back, what do you take out of Iowa City and into the NFL?

Donahue: Coach [Kirk] Ferentz — and the whole coaching staff — has instilled consistency in me. I've learned that's one of the most important things, as well as character. That's something that will stick with me for the rest of my life, let alone into the next level.

DI: What have people — former coaches, former teammates, etc. — been telling you to expect?

Donahue: [Former Iowa kicker] Nate Kaeding, in January, told me to expect teams coming in, working me out, and each team telling me a little something different with how I approach the ball or how I drop the ball — just different, certain technique things.

He told me to stay home with it — make sure you stay true to yourself [and] make sure you don't change a whole lot because, at the end of the day, you're still you. You don't want them to come in and change everything you've been working on for the past four years. That's something I've really been working on, just staying home with everything I've been doing.

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