Cowboys kicker Lirim Hajrullahu has three degrees... and a back-up plan

Hajrullahu and Texas Tech grad Garibay both struggling in practice

Cowboys kicker Lirim Hajrullahu celebrates with teammates after making a field goal at practice during training camp in Oxnard, California. (William Caldera, KSAT)

OXNARD, California – Cowboys kicker Lirim Hajrullahu could be the smartest man on the team. He has the degrees to prove it: an MBA, a master’s in sports management and an undergraduate degree as well. He’s even written a book.

“It was part of my masters,” Hajrullahu said. “I actually wrote the first kicking book. So if a high school coach were to pick up the book, they can look at it and learn, technically, what the kicker should be doing. These are the drills they should be doing. "

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But Lirim wanted to expand his knowledge beyond the mechanics of kicking. He also wanted to include the mental aspect of the game and control what he’s thinking about, since the difference in kickers in the NFL can be a small as a single yard.

“I come out here at nighttime, and I do my visualization on the field,” Hajrullahu explained. “Before practice, I try and do it in my room.”

Born in war torn Kosovo, Hajrullahu’s family fled to Canada when he was nine. There, he played in the Canadian Football League before he landing jobs in the NFL with the Cowboys, Panthers and Commanders before returning to the Cowboys again. This year’s training camp has not gone as expected. Both Hajrullahu and former Texas Tech Red Raider Jonathan Garibay have struggled in camp a bit, so head coach Mike McCarthy put them both in his ‘mojo moment’ in practice to help ramp up the pressure and the reps as well.

“When it comes to the ‘mojo moment,’ I just clue in to the situation,” Hajrullahu said. “I want to be one of the best guys in situational works, and we’re getting plenty of opportunity.”

Hajrullahu’s goal is to make the 53 man roster. If he misses the cut, his father, who is a professor, made sure he had plenty of options to fall back on thanks to his education.


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