A 35-year-old freshman tiptoes onto the Temple team
Perhaps the biggest difference between David Klukow's current avocation and his former vocation is that now he is allowed to use a net. As a punter for the Temple football team, Klukow practices by kicking the ball into a net over and over; as a member of the Flying Wallendas, Klukow performed death-defying acts on a high wire—no net allowed. "We practiced and performed over a dirt floor," says Klukow, who was with the Wallendas for 10 years. "Never a net. That way, you couldn't let your mind wander."
The 35-year-old redshirt freshman, who as the Owls' third-string punter is still waiting for his first game action, didn't start thinking about going to college until three years ago. Klukow had joined the Wallendas a year out of high school and traveled with them throughout North America for the Ringling Bros, and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Seven years ago, he decided to come down to earth, and entered the real estate business. "That was just too much of a desk job, though," Klukow says. "I knew I wouldn't be happy doing that for long." So he sold his house and business in Sarasota, Fla., moved to Philadelphia and enrolled at Temple as a full-time undergraduate. He plans to become a physical therapist.
Klukow had not played football since junior high school, but at the same time that he enrolled at Temple, he wrote a letter to Owls football coach Jerry Berndt, requesting a tryout. Berndt brushed the letter off as a joke, but after Klukow spoke to him, he decided to give him a chance. "I was talking to him one day, and I asked if he could imagine punting in front of 85,000 people," says Berndt. " 'Coach,' he said, 'I don't think that will bother me. After performing on a high wire in front of 20,000 people and knowing that if you fall, you're going to die, I think I can stand the pressure.' "