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GREEN BAY, Wis. – Daniel Whelan, a native of Ireland who was selected to the all-XFL team last week, has signed with the Green Bay Packers and will compete with veteran Pat O’Donnell.

In the XFL, Whelan ranked third in the league with a 45.6-yard average with 11 inside-the-20 kicks vs. two touchbacks. He led the eight-team league in hangtime. In one game vs. St. Louis, four of his five punts pinned the opponent inside the 20.

A native of Enniskerry, Ireland, Whelan is looking to become the first Irish-born player to compete in a regular-season game since kicker Neil O’Donoghue’s nine-year career ended with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1985.

As a kid, Whelan played soccer and rugby but was injured playing rugby and gave up the sport. When he was 13, the family moved to Palm Springs, Calif. He didn’t start playing football until he was a junior in high school.

"The football coach at high school came up to me after one of my soccer matches and said, ‘Do you want to try out to be a kicker?’ I started kicking and I was pretty natural at it,” Whelan told

Whelan entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2022. At UC-Davis, Whelan averaged 44.0 yards per punt for his career. As a fifth-year senior in 2021, he averaged an FCS-leading 46.3 yards per punt with 20 inside-the-20 kicks vs. only five touchbacks. His leg strength was illustrated by 21 punts of longer than 50 yards with a long of 65.

He spent time with the New Orleans Saints last offseason but was released before the start of training camp.

“I’m over the moon,” Whelan told last year. “I came here (to the U.S.) to play soccer and am just really excited about this opportunity. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Whelan has plenty of talent but will face a big challenge in unseating O’Donnell, who has been solid as a punter and will be counted on to help ease the transition at kicker.

“His leg talent is off the charts,” Aaron Perez, Whelan’s personal coach and director of The Punt Factory, said in the NOLA story. “He’s got an NFL body. He’s got an NFL leg. And he’s got an NFL mindset. In my opinion, he was easily one of the top five kids coming out of college in this draft.”

Whelan also has some kicking potential, though that’s not why he was signed by the Packers. In 2021 at UC-Davis, 37 of his 68 kickoffs delivered touchbacks. His Twitter page shows him making a 73-yard field goal.

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