Austin Day snaps the ball to Lifetime Kicking Academy head coach Dan Zeidman during a camp in January. [Photo courtesy of Joe Day]

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of stories highlighting Grand County High School student-athletes moving on to compete at the collegiate level

2014 Grand County High School graduate Austin Day has committed to play college football as a long-snapper at Utah State University, fulfilling the goal he set in sixth grade to play Division 1 college football.

Day will be a preferred walk-on his freshman year before being a scholarship athlete his sophomore-through-senior years, he said.

Day said he turned down several offers from other schools, including a full-ride scholarship to Morgan State, because Utah State was where he wanted to play. Utah State, Day said, already has a long-snapper on the roster and was unsure if it wanted to bring in another one this season until about three weeks ago.

“About two years ago, he went to Utah State’s junior day and really like the campus and the program,” Day’s father, Joe Day, said. “He was honest with all the other colleges who recruited him; he told them he wanted to play at Utah State.”

Austin Day said it was a roller-coaster ride of emotions waiting for the call from the Aggies.

“It was a tough decision,” Austin Day said of his hold-out. “Having other schools offering more, it was hard, but I knew where I wanted to play.”

Joe Day said that Austin Day made a goal to play Division 1 college football, and always took that goal seriously.

“A lot of people said it was a long shot, but he just kept shooting for the stars,” Joe Day said.

The Day family moved to Moab from Washington state about two years ago and said the GCHS football program and coaching staff was a big part of the decision.

“We ended up in the right place at the right time,” Joe Day said. “It seems like it was all part of the plan.”

Austin Day, who is ranked seventh in the country among high school long-snappers who have participated in more than one event in the National Camp Series, played center and defensive tackle for two years at GCHS, earning honorable mention all-state accolades from the Deseret News in each year. He enrolled in the Salt Lake City-based Lifetime Kicking Academy (LKA) to hone his long-snapping skills.

LKA hosts camps on kicking, punting and long-snapping and has instructors with college and professional football experience, some of whom teach one-on-one lessons. LKA’s primary goal “is to create a culture of excellence,” according to its website.

“We take pride in doing the right thing, the right way, at the right time, all of the time,” according to the website. “We believe football is a team sport and life is a team effort. Because of this, we not only commit to teaching on-the-field skills, but also instilling in our athletes the desire to live a life of integrity. As coaches, we commit to the highest quality of attention to our athletes.”

LKA owner and head coach Dan Zeidman, who played as a kicker and punter at Idaho State University and worked out with several NFL teams, said that Day is the epitome of those values.

“I have a ton of repsect for Austin and the entire Day family,” he said. “They are such a wonderful example to us all in how family is supposed to be done. Austin is a hard working and focused young man, wise beyond his years. He also has the humility to match that. Austin does a wonderful job of humbly pursuing his dreams and using his gifts to glorify his creator. I have had the pleasure working with him for the past year and I am very excited to see what his future as an Aggie looks like.”

Day earned scholarships of $2,000 from the Moab Rotary Club, a $1,500 from the Moab Chamber of Commerce and a $500 from the Rocky Mountain Elks Foundation to help pay for his schooling until his athletic scholarship comes to fruition. He said plans to major in business and go in to sports marketing after college.

“I’m excited and nervous,” Austin Day said. “It’s a new thing, but I look forward to it. I can’t wait to be up there practicing with the guys.”

The Aggies are scheduled to open the season against the Tennessee Volunteers on Aug. 31 at 5 p.m. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.

GCHS grad signs on to play football at Utah State

“I have had the pleasure working with him for the past year and I am very excited to see what his future as an Aggie looks like.”