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From Jonathan Holloway
For BBC Sport Scotland
Jamie Gillan hadn’t any intention of playing the match and also arrived in the US as a teenager who had never watched American soccer.
The Scot will make his NFL debut after procuring the job as Cleveland Browns’ punter.
It’s a rise to prominence for Gillan – famous’The Scottish Hammer’ – that has ousted former Super Bowl champion Britton Colquitt, also a 10-year NFL veteran, for a location on the Browns’ roster.
The 22-year-old tells BBC Scotland about 18-hour college days’ slog, bringing rugby skills to the NFL, also discussing kilt etiquette with a superstar team-mate.
There was cared for growing up in Inverness. By moving out to attend school boarding in Edinburgh desperate to perform for his state, he also followed his dream.
“I was totally rugby mad and miss it,” he states. “The only reason why I decided to visit Merchiston was because of all the men they’d put through to Scotland.”
It was there, because of promising fly-halfthat he built his talent for kicking away when his career took another trajectory that will come in handy 4,000 miles.
His father was submitted to Maryland and the household, such as a 16-year-old Jamie, left Scotland for a new life Stateside.
Then, he only fell into football as a way to a end. Gillan approached the coach of his high school football team with the intent of kicking his way on the team so as to stay fit throughout the French off-season, after pursuing rugby regionally inside his new residence.
With a couple alterations to his technique, Gillan quickly became the accomplished kicker and supplies of scholarships to play college football started to arrive.
“I was a tiny bit stricter in Scotland,” he said. “So when I came out hereI was hoping to acquire bigger and I only happened to find the football side and that I was like,’I might also provide a it a’ burst’.
“All my mates have been telling me that you might receive scholarships for kicking a ball and that I didn’t believe them at first. But I thought I’d give it a go after I saw the guy missing field goals.”
Gillan instantly made himself a name at the fiercely competitive college game together with the University of Arkansas Pine-Bluff, getting one of the very best kicking and punting options in his conference.
Over his four-year career, he managed 9,024 metres on 214 attempts and averaged 42.2 yards per cent. His longest punt was a 80 yards and 27 punts that exceeded 50 yards were also attained by him.
But a college athlete’s existence is a demanding one and Gillan discovered the balance of studies and sport gruelling.
“It was unreal, really hard,” he said. “Up at 4.30am, running until you can not breathe, and then you have got four classes later, then encounters, subsequently weightlifting. Then you have got meetings at night, then research hall from 8.30pm until 11pm, after which you’re up at 4am. It’s a ridiculous schedule but you did it like everyone else.”
Booming left foot and his consistency led with all the Browns first to show their hand by inviting Gillan into Ohio for a visit prior to the 2019 draft.
Punters are among the most sought after positions from the draft as the team’s 32 teams replenish their ranks with the college talent that is young, so if he went unpicked, Gillan was not too deflated.
“However, I got a telephone call following the fifth round out of a coach here and he was saying he was hoping I do not have picked up,” he said. “Then, after the draft ended, a lot of different teams called trying to bring me in as a free agent. However, there was no question, ” I was going to come to the Browns as they had shown me a great deal of love.”
Joining the Browns at April, Gillan showcased in games, delve right with all rugby-style handling that helped him set him apart into punt returners. And despite the in quality and spotlight, he wasn’t fazed, edging outside Colquitt to get the nod last Saturday.
“I know a lot of people get anxious and stuff but for me personally it was interesting,” he explained. “We had a huge audience for the first match, bigger than any I’ve ever played in front of in Arkansas. But when I moved out there it was not like a belly of butterflies, shaky legs, or worried – it was simply ultra focus.”
The Scottish Hammer now shares a locker area with some of the most famous names in sport.
The NFL’s biggest trade of the year saw celebrity receiver Odell Beckham Jr arrive in Cleveland in the New York Giants. And after sporting a kilt Beckham could be wishing he’d sought the advice of his prior to the blockbuster event.
“It was funny,” Gillan said”I’d need to tell himthough, he wore it the incorrect way. He wore the thing entirely backward. I informed him he was shocked. He was like,’Are you certain?’ . I was like,’Yeah, I buddy! He has been good craic.”
On the chance of his own celebrity, Gillan all is currently taking it all.
“I don’t think I’m famous yet,” he said. “But it is cool to get a few fans and folks taking the whole Scottish Hammer item and working with it. It is pretty amusing.”
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