XFL/USFL Prospect Profile & Interview: Kicker Shane McInerney

XFL/USFL Prospect Profile & Interview: Kicker Shane McInerney

Spring football leagues – such as the XFL and USFL – exist to provide athletes with opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. Irish kicker Shane McInerney is looking to capitalize on exactly that, having taken a rather unorthodox path to the professional world of kicking.

In fact, Shane McInerney has a story that some would find nearly impossible to believe. He never touched an American football until just three years ago, when he discovered the hobby during the pandemic.

While he may not have the decades of experience in football like other athletes, Shane’s remarkable skill sets make him into an intriguing kicking prospect. To fully understand how McInerney got here, one has to take a trip back to the beginning of his journey.

Soccer Career

Shane McInerney was born and raised in Ireland. He played soccer throughout his childhood, growing to love the game. McInerney was quite talented, and garnered interest from multiple soccer teams not just in Europe, but also in the United States.

However, his life would change entirely when he took a soccer scholarship in the United States:

“I came to the U.S. on a one way ticket when I was 19, as I was offered a scholarship. Haven’t looked back since, to be honest, I really love this country as it is the land of opportunities. I played for a few years in the States, first with Monroe Community College, and then Keiser University. After being named to the All-American team, I decided I was going to try and go pro. I had some interest in America, and also in Europe. After five or six different tryouts across America and Europe, I ended up signing with a team in Sweden.”

His trip back to Europe wouldn’t last too long, as Shane ended up signing with the Jacksonville Armada in the United States. At the same time, he began coaching soccer as well.

“From Sweden, I went back to Florida and coached soccer there. I played with the Jacksonville Armada in Florida for a season, and had a really good team there.”

Shane McInerney then went back to Ireland, and life would take a unique change when the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world by storm.

An Abrupt Career Change

When the COVID-19 Pandemic hit, everyone was stuck inside their homes, and sports quickly became irrelevant. During the lockdown period, Shane needed to find something to occupy himself with.

He ultimately settled on something he had never tried before: American football. Shane bought an official NFL ball, and a kicking tee, and started playing around with what was possible from a kicking standpoint at a local park.

“I was honestly just bored. I had a lot of time to think about what I wanted to do regarding my future for the next ten or fifteen years. One day I just decided to buy an NFL football, and a kicking stick from Amazon. I think it took like a week to reach Ireland. Since I had a bicycle, I would bike to the fields just down the road from my apartment and start practicing. I thought that I could potentially do well with it, and I was already going back to America on a soccer coaching project in Chicago, so my main focus was to try and give this kicking thing a go.”

For Shane, despite having very little experience with a football, he knew he was a talented kicker. Shane realized that to make it to the next level, he would need some training in order to reach his potential in football itself.

“I knew that the kicking ability was there, but this was a different ball. I started training with Chris Nendick, who trained Jake Elliott of the Philadelphia Eagles. We were able to work together in Chicago. I had reached out since I was heading to the city, and he agreed to get some work in. We met at a random turf field in Chicago, and he told me that I was pretty raw, but that I had the talent and could make some improvements if I put the work in. Nendick said that if I wanted to play pro, I would have to go to college first in order to make it to the NFL.”

He also was able to get in contact with Shayne Graham, who had a lengthy NFL career with the Cincinnati Bengals. Interestingly enough, he reached out to Graham before he had even touched a football, and they have been in touch ever since.

Graham has provided him with plenty of quality advice and pointers, helping him navigate the strange waters of transitioning from soccer to football. Graham’s honesty and direction was extremely valuable, and something that McInerney continues to appreciate to this day.

Peru State College

Shane’s unusual path took him to Peru State College, where he played one season. Before he got there, though, it would be a journey.

“Chris Nendick told me to set up a Twitter account, so I could start posting videos. This started in 2021. I began posting videos of my workouts and such, and got a call that I would have a full scholarship for myself in Peru, Nebraska if I wanted it. I was told it wouldn’t be at all like my lifestyle in Chicago or Florida, since Peru was in the middle of nowhere. But it seemed like a good opportunity, and their coach was formerly in the CFL.”

The interesting piece to all of this was how he ended up getting the gig at Peru. Shane was called in by Coach Casey Creehan – who, at the time, was a part of The Spring League. With the TSL playing in Indianapolis, Shane had the opportunity to kick at Lucas Oil Stadium during a private workout with Coach Creehan.

“So Coach Creehan was coaching in The Spring League, and called me up saying he was very interested and wanted to see me kick. He was going to offer me a full scholarship, but wanted to see me kick first. He asked if he could meet me in two days, so I drove from Chicago to Indianapolis early in the morning. I went from buying a football and learning how to kick, to kicking at Lucas Oil Stadium just a few months later. That was really cool for me.”

The tryout went exceptionally well. Shane showcased his big leg, and was officially offered the full scholarship. Peru’s preseason was beginning in just a few weeks, so he packed up quickly and made his way to Nebraska.

At the time, Shane was working as a private soccer coach in Chicago, for Challenger Sports. While he enjoyed the work he was doing there, the reason he came to the States was to play football, so it made sense to make the move.

Adjusting To The Game

It was quite the learning process for McInerney once he got to Peru. He had only been practicing with a kicking stick, and now had to learn the rules of football – and, the importance of working with teammates.

“That month of preseason in Nebraska was a lot of learning for me. I wasn’t too familiar with kickoffs or how those rules worked. I was a very good kicker and quite accurate, but even in some of those first games, I wasn’t sure when I was supposed to be on the field. So it was a process of figuring that out day by day.”

McInerney’s hard work paid off. He quickly became one of the top prospects in his division, and kicked extremely accurately, at 96% (40-42).

“The first nine games I went 100% on all my kicks, and on the season I went 40 of 42. I knew that was pretty good, especially for a college kicker. I looked at all the kickers in the NFL from 2021 and their stats, and my goal was to match them or to do better. Just taking it week by week, I was very driven and focused. I was blessed to have great support and coaching around me. Former NFL kickers giving me support and advice…I think it’s really important in life with who you surround yourself with, and these guys pushed me to further achieve my goals.”

For Shane, kicking a football is pretty straightforward. Despite having little football experience prior, it was something he knew he could excel at – and he did.

After a successful tenure at Peru, Shane McInerney knew it was time to take the next step forward: go pro.

Indoor Football Success

Shane had one goal in mind, and that was to play professionally by any means possible. His college stats were excellent, but he realized that he would have to put up numbers in the professional scene as well to garner more interest.

McInerney did have some pro opportunities earlier this year, having been a part of a USFL kicking combine. He performed quite well during that event, but it didn’t lead to a signing.

Then, he finally got the call he was hoping for. The Orlando Predators of the NAL signed Shane, giving him his first pro experience:

“I had it in the back of my mind to pursue acting. I had worked for a modeling agency in Florida for a few years, and they said that acting is something I could get into with my Irish accent. Right when I was about to give some agencies a look, the Orlando Predators called me up and said they wanted to sign me. So I drove there three days later and signed with the team. I played three games there, and then the Arizona Rattlers reached out to me.”

Shane McInerney then was presented with another excellent opportunity – to play with the Arizona Rattlers, who were the top organization in the IFL this year.

“I really loved it here in Arizona. They were a top organization in the league, and helped me cover a lot of things throughout the season. I was able to get plenty of exposure, footage, and film. In my opinion, they were the top indoor organization in the country. I went 73 for 79 on kicks this past season, which is a great percentage for indoor football. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and I know they want me back for next season. But, I never want to settle or sell myself short, since I know I can get to the next level after performing the way I did.”

McInerney shined bright in Arizona, and saw quite a bit of success with the team. He was faced with some obstacles, but pushed through them all which led to a rewarding season.

“As a kicker, you have to maintain your confidence and stay mentally strong all the time. I remember this year with the Rattlers I had missed a kick that would have won us the game. But you have to stay mentally focused and locked in. The game ended up going into overtime, and I knew I would have another opportunity. I knocked through the game winner in overtime, which wouldn’t have been possible if I would have gotten distracted by the earlier miss.”

The Journey Ahead

Shane McInerney has had quite the journey so far – and, he knows that the path ahead is going to have its challenges. His unwavering confidence in himself and his abilities is crucial to his own success, silencing the doubters who questioned his plans to play professionally in the NFL.

“When I was back in Ireland, I remember friends coming to my apartment and would ask how things were going. I told them I was going back to America to coach soccer, and also to try to pursue football as a kicker. They were like, ‘what are you talking about?’. They would tell me that it was a ridiculous idea. But I knew what I was capable of. I had a vision back then, and I still have that same vision now. In life, if you trust your instincts and what you believe in, you can make anything happen.”

A structured plan is necessary in order to achieve a lofty goal such as making it to the NFL. Shane knows that it is going to take time – and a serious commitment across the board.

“I think I’m going to give this ten years. I’m 31 now and I’m going to really focus on doing what I can to make this kicking thing happen. I went over 90% in the IFL, and my goal is to go to the XFL or USFL, and kick over 90% in that league. From there, my vision is to go to the NFL. I understand what it takes to make it there.”

Throughout his kicking career – in soccer and football – Shane has learned plenty of valuable lessons that have contributed to the success he’s seen on and off the field.

“There’s been a lot along the way. Such as leaving Ireland on my own at 19. I think I’ve learned through mistakes and experiences, and being on my own. Some people might look at some of the success I’ve had recently in football, but I’ll tell you what, it’s been a grind. Lots of ups and downs along the way. I know that my mind is very strong, and the McInerney family is full of strong people. I think I’m built for this scene, and I’m ready for whatever’s ahead.”

Without a doubt, Shane McInerney has proved all of the doubters wrong so far. His remarkable pathway to success in soccer, and then American football, is one of the most unique stories we’ve ever seen.

Interestingly enough, former Birmingham Stallions kicker Brandon Aubrey began his professional career in the soccer scene as well. Now, he’s arguably the top kicker in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys. If there’s anyone who can follow in Aubrey’s footsteps, it is going to be Shane McInerney.

What are your thoughts on Shane’s journey so far? Which XFL or USFL team would you like to see him play for? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!