So I was scrolling my lovely Twitter feed this morning when a tweet by Auburn Football recruiting news guru Keith Niebuhr caught my eye.
That lead me to this awesome piece written by Auburn signee Arryn Siposs over at PlayersVoice.com. In the article, Auburn’s likely starting punter in 2018 explains how he went from an Australian football player with very little knowledge or interest in American football, to signing as a punter with the Auburn Tigers this past February. I highly recommend reading the whole thing but here are a few highlights.
Siposs might have watched 1 Super Bowl in his life
I really had no idea about American football, hadn’t watched much of the game at all, didn’t know the rules. My old man was a Dallas Cowboys fan – he had a couple of little pieces of memorabilia, including some shot glasses with the Cowboys helmet on them.
Because of Dad I had a poster on my bedroom wall of Emmit Smith, the Cowboys’ famous running back, but I didn’t have a clue about the game or his impact on it. I might have watched the Super Bowl once as a teenager, but I can’t recall who was playing.
Injuries derailed his AFL career
I had three shoulder reconstructions in my last three seasons at the Saints, which wasn’t ideal. My labrum had to be repaired after a bit of bone had been chipped off it. That’s a six-month injury, and in my five years at St Kilda I spent 18 months out of a game that’s pretty tough to get into in the first place.
I was 22 when I got delisted and still felt like I had a lot of footy in me. My body was just starting to adjust to the environment.
Siposs’s knowledge of Auburn before his first visit: Iron Bowl & Bo Jackson
The only thing I knew about Auburn was that they have a massive rivalry with Alabama, one of the biggest in college football. And I knew Bo Jackson was an absolute legend of the college. Other than that, nothing.
Around Christmas last year my girlfriend Rachael and I went on a holiday to America. We went to New York and I popped the question while we were there, then I took my new fiancée down to Auburn. It’s just beautiful.
The stadium is massive – they get 90,000 there every game. The facilities are through the roof – two outdoor fields, a massive indoor training facility, a huge gymnasium. I’ve come through an AFL environment where the facilities are pretty incredible, but this is just next level. To have that at a college, it just blows your mind.
I realised, gee, these stadiums get filled out. It’s going to be an experience and a half. The biggest crowd I played in front of in my 28 games for St Kilda was about 65,000, but I guess having a rough idea of what it’s like playing in front of a crowd will make life a bit easier. I’m really looking forward to it.
Interesting glimpse into some of the mechanics/coaching behind CFB punting
I’d always thought being a gridiron punter was just about getting yardage and good hang time, but with the amount of Australians who’ve gone over there over the years there’s been a shift to using a drop punt style of kick, and really pinpointing where you put the ball on the field so you can lock down the opposition in terms of them being able to return the ball.
College teams have picked up that the Australian punters do that really well.
When you kick what’s effectively a drop punt with an American football, instead of kicking close to the point of the ball as you do with an AFL ball you have to kick the belly of an American football. If you get too close to the point it will just pretty much go straight up in the air. That took a little bit of adjusting, just having been so used to kicking close to the end of the footy.
Again, I highly recommend giving the article a read. Punting has been a bit of a sore spot for Auburn ever since Steven Clark graduated but I think chances are very good that ends this fall. The Tigers will be starting freshman at both kicker and punter in 2018 which would typically be cause for concern if one wasn’t the younger brother of the SEC’s best kicker and the other a 22 year old former Australian footballer. Not a bad duo to handle the kicking/punting duties for the next four seasons.