Sometimes, when a person finds failure in life, they create space for new opportunities. For kicker “Deestroying” Donald De La Haye, the traditional pathway to becoming a kicker at the professional level was not the road he presented to follow his dream. “Deestroying” has overcome challenges and critics while finding himself becoming the starting kicker for the San Antonio Brahmas.

De La Haye started this journey while kicking at the University of Central Florida. While at Central Florida, De La Haye started his “Deestroying” YouTube channel. De La Haye had become a kickoff specialist for the Golden Knights, and his YouTube channel became a sensation. De La Haye’s channel was so successful that the NCAA stepped in and made him aware that due to the money he was making, he would lose his eligibility at the NCAA level (pre-NIL era). That meant De La Haye needed to decide between kicking at UCF or continuing his channel, and he chose to continue making content for his channel.

With kicking at the NCAA level no longer an option, De La Haye started making videos declaring his intention to kick at the professional level. In 2019, the Toronto Argonauts in the CFL invited De La Haye to camp, but he was cut from the roster during the pre-season to continue focusing on making content for his channel. In 2022, De La Haye was co-owner of the Glacier Boyz of the Fan-Controlled Football League.

What turned out to be De La Haye’s best opportunity to become a professional kicker became a reality when the San Antonio Brahmas signed him to come to training camp and compete with a former NFL kicker for the Brahmas kicking position.

YouTube video

De La Haye has made the most of this opportunity, the Brahmas. While he has worked hard to present himself as a legitimate professional kicker, he has impressed those in charge of deciding which players would make the 2024 San Antonio Brahmas roster. Many suspected De La Haye would struggle to compete with former NFL kicker Matt Ammendola. Still, Ammendola was cut from the roster in the first round of roster cuts, leaving De La Haye as the placekicker for the Brahmas.

Along with winning the right to kick for the Brahmas, he has also been allowed to continue making video content for his YouTube channel. Recently, De La Haye released a video showing his experience at a day of practice with the Brahmas.

YouTube video

Earlier this week, De La Haye met with the media to discuss his journey with the Brahmas, as reported by UFL Insider James Larsen. De La Haye said, “It’s been amazing. We’ve got a great group of guys. I’m grateful to be here in this environment. I love my teammates, my coach; it’s great, man.” De La Haye added, “Man, I was overjoyed to get the news (about surviving the first round of roster cuts). I was happy to be here every single day.”

Winning Brahma’s job as their placekicker is the start of his ultimate journey to find his place as a kicker at the professional level. While he has been working hard for this opportunity, the real challenge is to prove that he can be successful as the man kicking for the Brahmas. De La Haye mentioned, “It’s a grind every day, physically and mentally. I put good things on tape but I’m trying to come down from it this is not the end of the journey, this is just the beginning. De La Haye mentioned that he won the job on a kicking testing day in which he scored 7 for seven on-field goals and hit a 58-yard field goal.

YouTube video

During his journey, De La Haye appreciated punter Brad Wing and special teams coordinator Payton Pardee’s guidance. De La Hayes mentioned the assistance from Wing and Pardee when he said, “The way they’ve helped me through camp is priceless. They’ve kept me under their wing, hanging out with them at practice and going out to dinner and stuff.” De La Haye also mentioned that he is still learning to be a pro: “I’m a rookie in this situation. They’ve taught me how to conduct myself as a pro.” 

Special teams coordinator Payton Pardee also talked about De La Hays, saying, “Not a lot of people knew what to expect, but that kid has come in and exceeded expectations. I know he has for me. He’s handled himself well. Of course, everyone knows he’s a talented kicker. Still, he’s been able to show that in team settings and pressure situations, and I think he deserves credit for how he’s come in and handled himself as a professional.”

De La Haye winning the kicking position for the Brahmas is not only a personal victory but also a win for the UFL. De La Haye currently has approximately 5.8 million subscribers on his YouTube channel. At the same time, De La Haye is getting the chance to live out his dream as a kicker at the professional level—the Brahmas and UFL benefit from the attention that comes from associating with a famous YouTube star.

Follow me on X: @AaronSauter7

author avatar
Aaron Sauter
Aaron Sauter is a 23-veteran high school football coach that is also an fan of all levels of football. He is especially interested in alternative football leagues like the CFL, UFL, and IFL. Aaron enjoys analyzing innovative schemes on offense and defense during his free time.

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