Highland punter Austin McNamara had one last gift for fans of Texas Tech University on Christmas day, as he announced on Twitter his commitment to play football for the Red Raiders in the fall.
“You can call it a Christmas present but I’m not sure many people think of it like that because I’m just a punter,” McNamara said, laughing. “But this is the best time of the year so I guess it just kind of worked out that way.”
McNamara’s commitment to Texas Tech came just over a week after the three-star punter was offered by new Red Raiders coach Matt Wells – who had spent the last five years at the helm of the Utah State program.
Wells was hired by Texas Tech in November for the same position. The relationship he and McNamara had from the coach’s time at Utah State played a major role in the two reconnecting in Lubbock.
“He saw me punt live (at Utah State),” McNamara said. “When he got to Texas Tech and realized he needed a punter, he called me right away. He told me I was the only punter he was comfortable with and he wanted me.”
McNamara went on an official visit to Texas Tech on Dec. 16, just three days before the early signing period began on Dec. 19. He immediately fell in love with everything the university had to offer. From the facilities designated for the football program to the academic buildings he toured while there, he knew it was the right fit.
“They really care about you and make you want to feel at home,” McNamara said. “That’s how I felt when I was there. I really liked everything.”
Even though he immediately fell in love he didn't make his decision to commit until Christmas Eve, when the early signing period had passed.
McNamara called Wells that night while surrounded by family to inform him of his decision. Needless to say, everyone around him was excited.
“They are all looking into buying Texas Tech gear now,” McNamara said. “More than anything it’s just nice for it to finally be over. It was a long process.”
Rated as the top punter in the nation for the 2019 class, McNamara had received several other offers from major universities, including UCLA and Missouri. He also received a handful of preferred walk-on offers.
And while some of those schools made a lasting impression on the senior punter, none were as good as Texas Tech at the end of the day.
McNamara said he has no desire to take any more official visits between now and February, when he plans to sign his National Letter of Intent. For now, he wants to focus on finishing out his senior year before he goes on to represent Highland and the state at a major Division I program.
“That’s something that means a lot to me,” McNamara said. “I just want to do my best to represent Highland, Gilbert and the whole state of Arizona.
“That’s really important to me.”