2007-08-30 / Sports

Local kicker makes national appearance

By Michael Selecky
VIEW Sports Writer

TENNESSEE — Lapeer native Glenn Pakulak took the next step in his athletic career by signing with the Tennessee Titans (NFL) this past January.
The 1998 Lapeer East graduate has seen a long and varied road in his attempts to join the ranks of the football elite. As a freshman he played basketball and baseball for Rochester University before transferring to the University of Kentucky, where he had to re-do his freshman year. Because he was red-shirted, his initial season in Lexington was spent punting for the Wildcats’ jv squad.
Since graduating from the University of Kentucky in 2003, Pakulak signed with the Seattle Seahawks as an un-drafted free agent before being cut less than three months later.
“It was awesome. I was really excited coming out of college,” said Pakulak. “They ended up going another direction and brought in Tom Rouen, who had been punting in the NFL for 10 years.”
About a week after that, Pakulak was signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers but was again let go after 18 days of service.
“Pittsburgh released me after training camp, but I definitely enjoyed it,” Pakulak said. “I’m a very competitive person, and it’s been an unbelievable experience. It’s taught me patience and perseverance.”
The following season, Pakulak joined the Atlanta Falcons on Feb. 5 but was waived during training camp on Aug. 15, 2004.
“After the season, teams will sign a punter or kicker so they have two for camp. I got cut after one preseason game, even though I had a couple of back-to-back 50-yard punts,” said Pakulak.
In 2005, the kicker did not play the entire year, but attended a winter kicking camp. He spent his time working at the Vanco Steel Factory in North Branch and training in Louisiana with college teammate and then New Orleans Saint Shane Boyd. The former high school linebacker and receiver also returned to Lexington to continue his education.
“I had an agent and I was calling teams on my own,” Pakulak said. “There’s not a lot of jobs out there. At one point I was bar-backing on Bourbon Street. One of these days I’d love to have some stability.”
Pakulak was able to catch on with the Oakland Raiders on Jan. 19, 2006, but the team immediately allocated him to the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe, a six-team developmental league that was recently discontinued after 20 years.
“I knew the Raiders had an awesome punter in Shane Lechler. You usually don’t want to go where the guy is established,” said Pakulak. “I was able to go over to Europe and get some good game film.”
Starting all 10 regular season games for the Admirals, Pakulak led the league with an average of 42.2 yards per punt. In week nine he earned Special Teams Player of the Week Honors by punting seven times for a total of 317 yards with one touchback.
Despite his team’s 7-3 regular season record, Pakulak was cut by the Raiders at the end of training camp on Aug. 28, 2006.
On Jan. 13, 2007, the long-time Barry Sanders fan signed with the Tennessee Titans, where he was instantly reallocated to the Amsterdam Admirals.
“The Titans have Craig Heintrich, a three-time Pro-Bowler,” said Pakulak. “These preseason games are a tryout for the whole league. It’s been five years of ups and downs.”
Things finally came together for Pakulak Aug. 11 during week one of the NFL preseason when the Titans faced the Washington Redskins at home. Punting four times, he managed 175 yards total with a long of 57 yards for an average of 43.8 yards per punt. He didn’t play in week two against New England but did see action on Aug. 24 at Buffalo, punting three times for 144 yards.
“It’s been so frustrating but I don’t have a lot of regret. I know God has a plan for everybody,” Pakulak said.
On Aug. 26, the Titans waived Pakulak, and six others, in anticipation of the Aug. 28 mandatory cut down to 75 players.
“It was the fifth time. It gets a little easier every time,” said Pakulak. “I went in to speak with coach (Jeff) Fisher for about 10 minutes and he had nothing but good things to say. It’s good to hear those things, but it doesn’t pay the bills.”
Pakulak’s impending professional options are limited, as the ARENA Indoor Football League does not allow punting by rule and the Canadian Football League uses one kicker to perform all duties.
“I really feel like even if I had out-punted Craig (Heintrich), the Titans weren’t going to go with me,” Pakulak said. “You always want to believe you have a chance but it’s cool to see that kind of loyalty. Hopefully one day that will be me.”

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