Mac Chiumento will be a preferred walk-on at Florida State where he is expected to be the kickoff specialist next season.
Shrouded in secrecy on the Seabreeze auditorium stage, Mac Chiumento, his dad Michael, mom Cathy and two siblings, Carson and Camryn, were cloaked in nondescript attire as the punter/kicker made his college announcement.
Four hats were perched in front of him with three from his top schools: Alabama, Florida and Florida State. As he reached for the black hat with the Seminole Indian prominently displayed, the crowd broke out into the FSU war chant.
Chiumento will be a preferred walk-on with the Seminoles. Joining him on stage on National Signing Day, Feb. 2, were four Seabreeze teammates who will also continue their football careers in college.
Linebacker Jeremy West-Pirtle signed with North Carolina Central. Defensive back Chris Lewis is heading to Division II Northwest Missouri State. Offensive lineman Alexander Hilliard signed with St. Andrews University, and linebacker Dante Jones will be attending Briar Cliff University.
Chiumento's announcement, however, had the most impact on the crowd.
“Mac comes to work every day, not with a kicker’s mentality but with a player’s mentality who will do anything and everything he can to help us be the best that we can possibly be,” Seabreeze wide receivers coach Mark Lewis said on stage. “You are a wonderful person and come from a great family. We are very, very proud of you. We will always be rooting for you. We love you.”
Chiumento is expected to handle kickoffs for FSU from day one. Head coach Mike Norvell, special teams coordinator John Papuchis and special teams analyst Carter Barfield have been in contact with Chiumento since they offered him a preferred walk-on spot in July 2021. His conversation with FSU kicker Ryan Fitzgerald solidified his decision.
“The night before I committed, I got to talk to their kicker,” Chiumento said. “I really liked his vibe. I was on the fence, but that conversation set it in stone.”
Even though Chiumento's parents are die-hard University of Florida fans, they support their son's decision 100%. They will be rooting for the Gators unless they are playing the Seminoles.
“Mac comes to work every day, not with a kicker’s mentality but with a player’s mentality who will do anything and everything he can to help us be the best that we can possibly be,”
MARK LEWIS, Seabreeze wide receivers coach
“Our family is very proud,” father Michael Chiumento III said. “Mac has been doing this since he was about 3. Every day in the front yard, so it comes with a lot of hard work, but he could not have gotten here by himself. He has a brother and sister who have put up with him all these years, so thank you guys. Also, coaches, we see you on the sidelines during the games. We could not have gotten here without you.”
In 2019, Seabreeze head coach Pat Brown nicknamed Chris Lewis, “Baby T.O.,” recalling former NFL star Terrell Owens. Lewis came in at 140 pounds, dedicated himself to the weight room and now tops the scales at 193 pounds, Brown said.
Assistant coach Michael Jackson said he has heard comments about West-Pirtle not being strong enough, big enough or fast enough to play college football. He has always responded with an increased dedication to the sport and determination to play college football, Jackson said.
West-Pirtle will play on the Division I FCS level at N.C. Central. He was the Sandcrabs’ defensive player of the year after wrapping up his senior season with 90 tackles, 12.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.
Jones, who transferred from Mainland last June, is currently training with the Sandcrabs’ track and field team where he competes in discus and shot put. Briar Cliff, in Sioux City, Iowa, is an NAIA school.
The 6-foot, 340-pound Hilliard is known for his lifting prowess in the weight room and laying out defensive linemen in the game. St. Andrews is also an NAIA school.