By Michael Cuneo
PEACHTREE CITY — John Parker Romo has his eyes set on the NFL. Before the Virginia Tech kicker started nailing field goals in the NCAA, he played for McIntosh high school in Peachtree City, Georgia.
Romo, who is currently training in Buffalo, New York, hopes to become a rarity: a kicker taken in the NFL draft.
While many kickers end up signing as undrafted rookie free agents, few are selected each year in the draft. In 2021 alone, the Cincinnati Bengals were the only team to choose a kicker when they took Florida prospect Evan McPherson 149 overall.
The move paid off for the Queen City team as McPherson had one of the best rookie kicker campaigns in NFL history, hitting a game-winning field goal in the AFC Championship game.
While the road ahead might not be easygoing for Romo, he believes he has what it takes to step up to the next level.
“I am incredibly grateful for all the people who have impacted my journey,” he said. “I’ve been kicking for 12 years and have traveled all over the country for college recruitment, lessons, games, and other training.”
Before he made his way to the colligate gridiron, Romo played several sports at McIntosh high school in Peachtree City, a suburb 30 minutes south of Atlanta.
He played soccer and ran track, but it was kicking on the football field that made him feel most at home.
His college career started at Central Arkansas, where he served as the placekicker for coach Brad Campbell before transferring to Tulsa in 2018.
He spent his time in Oklahoma on kickoff duty, occasionally getting the chance to take a field goal.
In 2019, Romo transferred to Virginia Tech, where he served as the kickoff specialist before getting the chance to kick field goals the following year. His first career field goal in a Tech uniform was a 48-yarder against North Carolina.
“That was the first game of the season. It was just sural.” Romo said of his 48-yard field goal that sailed through the uprights at Lane Stadium. “After I kicked it, I knew it was going in. I just looked at my holder Peter Moore and was like, ‘wow, this is incredible.”
Romo would finish the season hitting 18 of 22 field goals and all 34 of his point-after attempts. The kicker also continued to find his stride on kickoffs, notching 30 touchbacks.
After the season, he was invited to the 2022 tropical bowl and named the third team All ACC kicker by Pro Football Focus.
Despite few kickers ever making it to the NFL, Romo says he is entirely confident in his abilities, stating that he won’t give up facilely.
“I will give it a few years of trying to play at the highest level before I consider hanging up my cleats. I have been told by many people, including NFL coaches, that I have the ability to play at the next level,” he said.
With the 2022 NFL draft less than four weeks away, Romo hopes to hear his name called in Las Vegas. Whatever the outcome, he says he will continue to train, hoping to find his way onto an NFL team one day.