By RONALD KLOSS Era Sports Writer
The country of Australia is known by many as “The Land Down Under.”
Most people who travel there are on vacation. When Bradford native Cody Nuzzo heads there next month, he’ll be going to work!
Nuzzo, a 2010 graduate of Bradford High School, has continued his dream of playing professional football by signing a contract with the Gold Coast Kings based in Gold Coast, one of the largest cities in the country.
The Kings are a member of the new National Gridiron League (NGL), an American-style football league that debuts this fall.
Cody is no stranger when it comes to pro football. Until recently, he was a kicker and punter with four teams in the Arena Football League over a two-year period.
“The Arena League was a great experience for me, but now this (Australia) is definitely a big thing,” Nuzzo said Thursday.
“Here in Australia, they call American football ‘gridiron.’ It’s sort of like we (Americans) use the word soccer and they call it football.”
Being 24 years old and single also made the decision to accept the Kings’ offer less difficult.
“I’m not married so there are just my parents and brothers and sisters, and that helped make the decision a little easier,” he pointed out.
The journey to Australia began when Kings head coach Bill Stafford was watching films from a combine that Nuzzo had attended and was interested in the young kicker.
“Coach Stafford was actually recruiting a player, our quarterback, who I played with at California University of Pennsylvania. He also needed a kicker and saw me. At the time, I was in the middle of the season in New Mexico with the Gladiators.
I told him that I had to finish the season there and I would like to have a little time to decide. He gave me until the beginning of June.
“Once I verbally told him that I would play for him, he sent me information about the league’s rules and regulations that I had to be willing to accept. Then I got the contract and signed it electronically.
“The contract is for one season, but my salary will be about four times what it was in the Arena League.
“They (Kings) also pay for all my housing and traveling.
“They take care of all the meals and cover all the essentials that I would need. There are a lot of nice amenities and I pretty much have no expenses.”
Cody will be leaving for Australia at the end of August. The new league’s season will run from October through the end of January.
Nuzzo was an outstanding kicker/punter in high school which laid the groundwork for his next move up the ladder, playing for California (Pa.).
He graduated from there in 2014.
“When I came out of college, I went to a couple of kicking combines and did pretty well,” Nuzzo explained.
That may be an understatement. His performance got the attention of the Buffalo Bills.
“There were four or five of us from California that the Bills wanted to look at. I had a workout with them and that was a highpoint,” Nuzzo admitted. “That’s when the reality set in that I could really play football beyond college as a professional.”
The combine also served as a stepping stone to the Arena Football League.
“Gary Zauner, who was a special teams coach in the NFL, runs the combine I was at. It’s his combine and he gave me a recommendation with the Bloomington (Ill.) Edge who were looking for a kicker.
In that league you’ve got to be able to do both, kick and punt.”
That led to stints with the Colorado Crush, New Mexico’s Duke City Gladiators and the Billings Wolves in Montana.
The time spent traveling in the AFL to different areas of the country provided Nuzzo with valuable experience, not only in football, but life in general.
Countless hours on buses gave him a taste of life on the road, which likely made the Kings’ contract offer and all they provided, hard to pass up.
Among his Arena League memories were appearances in television commercials.
In one he danced to help promote a benefit for children with cancer.
He spent time visiting elementary schools to read books to young students, and also enjoyed being asked to sign autographs at various venues.
Does he feel that playing in Australia may lead to an eventual career in the NFL?
“Right now, I’m taking it one step at a time,” he answered.
Cody is the son of Ann and Alex Nuzzo of Bradford.
This post originally appeared on Bradford Era. Copyright 2016.