Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports  |  Last updated 5/6/12

When he first started playing football five years ago, kicker Long Ding in his wildest dreams probably never guessed he’d have a chance to make an NFL team. But here he is: An undrafted invitee to Jaguars rookie minicamp.

Ding, 24, came to the United States in 2007 as part of the International Federation of American Football/USA Football International Student Program and started playing for a New Hampshire high school. Eventually he ended up as the kicker for D-III Norwich University in Vermont, where he nailed every kick inside of 40 yards during his senior year.

When the Jaguars came calling, Ding, who hails from Quig Doa, China, needed to look at a map.

“I had no idea where Jacksonville was,” he said, according to The Florida Times-Union. “I didn’t even know it was in Florida.”

After watching Ding show off his leg on Friday, Jags special teams coach John Bonamego was impressed with what he saw.

“I think the kid legitimately has some talent,” Bonamego said. “He is a guy you pull for. Like all kickers coming out, he’s got to sort of find himself. He is by no means a finished product, but he deserves to be here. I’ve seen better and I’ve seen a whole lot worse in camp. We’ll see what happens.”

However, even with the incumbent Josh Scobee unsigned, Ding stands as a long shot to make the team. But if he can overcome the odds, Ding knows what’s at stake for his popularity back home in China.

“If the dream comes true, that would be cool,” he said. “Maybe close to Yao Ming. I don’t know.”

But for now, it’s probably best we hold off on making awful puns with his name.

Here’s video from college of Ding in action:

Photo credit: Phil Sears-US PRESSWIRE

This article first appeared on Larry Brown Sports and was syndicated with permission.

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