Dan Orner to get his kicks for NFL's Vikings

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:12

    WARWICK-Dan Orner of Warwick never had a better slice of pizza in his life. After 255 names were called at last weekend's NFL draft at New York's Paramount Theater Orner got his opportunity to becomed a professional football player. The Times Herald Record reported that just minutes after the draft ended the kicker was offered a free-agent contract to play with the Minnesota Vikings. "I just ordered a pizza and called my friends and family," said Orner when asked what he did to celebrate. "It was a stressful day watching names scroll by on the bottom of the TV." Orner will earn the $325,000 league minimum plus a signing bonus. The 1999 Warwick Valley High School graduate is expected to compete with incumbent kicker Aaron Elling. "I don't know much about him," said Orner via telephone from North Carolina. "To kick in this league you have to be good. But I also know that they are bringing someone else in to compete." Other teams were in contact with Orner such as the Indianapolis Colts. But when the Colts passed on Orner with their seventh round selection it was a blessing. Instead of going into camp and competing with one of the games top kickers in Mike Vanderjagt, he gets to take his hand at the 25-year-old Elling. "It changes your entire mindset when you are going in facing a 15-year NFL vet (Vanderjagt) and going in with a good chance to compete," said Orner. At the University of North Carolina, Orner served as the team's starting kicker and has three field goals of 50-plus yards. Playing in his home state of New York, he kicked 51, 52, and 55 yard field goals in a win over Syracuse University. While at Warwick, the 5-foot-8 Orner was an all-state football, soccer, and baseball player en route to being named the school's most outstanding athlete in his senior year. "This is a great reward for him," said Warwick Head Football Coach Gregory Sirico. "Danny never missed a practice in his time here. He was a full time soccer and football player in the same season and all of his work has paid off." Next on the agenda for Orner is a trip to the Vikings mini-camp at the end of April. This preseason look for Orner in the team's first preseason game on Aug. 14 against Arizona. If he makes the team, Minnesota hosts Dallas in the regular season opener on Sept. 12. "I have no doubt in my mind that Danny will go there and compete and make the team," said Sirico. "He is not going to be just a body to get them through camp." Orner will be the first Warwick graduate to land in an NFL Camp and one of three Section 9 players to do the same. "This is a great thing for section 9 and New York State. Not just Warwick," said Sirico.