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Brookwood grad Zimmerman returns to Gwinnett with Falcons

Staff Photo: John Bohn Falcons punter Dawson Zimmerman warms up prior to the Atlanta Falcons holding a Friday Night Lights scrimmage at Peachtree Ridge High School.

Staff Photo: John Bohn Falcons punter Dawson Zimmerman warms up prior to the Atlanta Falcons holding a Friday Night Lights scrimmage at Peachtree Ridge High School.

SUWANEE -- There's no place like home rings true for a member of the 2012 Atlanta Falcons.

Rookie punter Dawson Zimmerman, a Brookwood grad, was signed by his hometown team this offseason as an undrafted free agent after graduating from Clemson University.

"It's a great blessing," said Zimmerman, who took part in the Falcons' Friday Night Lights scrimmage on Friday at Peachtree Ridge. "Out of all the teams to be picked up by the home team, I consider myself really fortunate to be in this position."

Although the punters weren't necessarily the main attraction during the scrimmage, Zimmerman is living a Falcons fans' dream just being in training camp this summer.

"I was a Falcons fan growing up especially when they were making that Super Bowl run, and as they started getting into this new era with Matt (Ryan) and the other guys, I definitely went to some games," he said. "That's what's so great about playing is I'm still (thinking) 'That is Matt Ryan. I'm a huge fan of his.'"

Being within an hour's drive of home is a luxury Zimmerman gets to enjoy, even as a rookie in his first training camp and is excited for the first preseason game against Baltimore on Thursday.

"I'm fortunate enough to have my parents be able to drive up here and watch me," Zimmerman said. "It (Atlanta) is just a great place to play. I got a lot of friends who are going to be able to make it to some of the preseason games, so I'll definitely have some supporting fans (at the Dome),"

In the early portion of the of Friday's scrimmage, Zimmerman took snaps holding for his fellow kickers as well as working on his hang time during special teams drills. The 22-year-old Lawrenceville native was booting his punts 40-50 yards downfield as fans filed into the stadium. It wasn't that long ago when Zimmerman was one of those fans who used to watch from the stands.

"It's just really interesting because from an outside point of view, you hold (the players) up on a pedestal," Zimmerman said. "When you get around them, they're not action heroes they're real people. It's really cool to be able to interact with those guys and be in the same locker room."