The Jacksonville Jaguars are bringing in 27 players on a "try out" basis for rookie mini-camp this weekend. One of those players is Chinese kicker Long Ding, who didn't even play American football until 2007 as a member of the International Federation Of American Football (IFAF), which is a governmental plan in China to breed interest in and develop youth and amateur American football.
At Norwich University Ding was twice named Eastern Collegiate Football Conference Special Teams' Player of the Year, gained all-New England Football Writers Association and D3football.com all-region accolades and the October Fred Mitchell Award.
Ding left China in 2007 to study and play football at the New Hampton School, prior to that his kicking experience had been limited to an NFL- organized camp in China. In Ding's first season he made 21 of 26 extra point attempts and six of eight field goals. Ding also played defense, picking up 19 tackles, 6 tackles for a loss and had three sacks.
Long Ding then played football for two years at Dean College, winning a Northeast Football Conference championship in 2008 and 2009 and he was named MVP of the 2010 NJCAA Bowl Game and was selected as an all-conference kicker.
He finished up his college career at Norwich University converting 11 consecutive field goals and 14 extra points in a row. He ended the 2011 season as Norwich's leading scorer with 73 points.
I don't think Ling realistically has a shot to make the Jaguars roster, but it's a neat story none the less.