Football Report: The Buckeyes Head Down Under for a Punter
By Tony Gerdeman
According to Wednesday's Columbus Dispatch, Cameron Johnston, a 21-year old former Australian Rules Football player, is headed to Columbus to join the Buckeyes as a punter.
Ohio State has yet to confirm the addition. However, given the recent departure of linebacker David Perkins, the Buckeyes would appear to have a scholarship available.
Place-kicker Drew Basil went through the spring as the Buckeyes' punter as well as kicker, and special teams coordinator Kerry Coombs was confident that he could handle the job. They even kept Basil on a kick count so that he wouldn't fatigue his leg.
Now, however, per the report, Basil may not have to worry about fatigue.
"He has an explosive leg unlike anything that I think anyone at Ohio State will have seen," Nathan Chapman, who trained Johnston at Prokick Australia in Melbourne, told the Dispatch.
"He went on an official visit, got his paperwork, signed it and sent it back. He got his visa and student passport and has his enrollment date."
According to the Dispatch, Johnston's flight for the U.S. left Tuesday night.
Prokick Australia is a training ground for Australian Rules Football players who want to become kickers and punters in America and Canada.
Their website gives a very interesting description of American college football and the opportunities found therein.
American football has long been the most popular sporting game in the USA.
While the NFL has a greater social awareness many countries, the College football community outweighs the NFL in a number of areas. In fact, there are many things you may not have heard about College Football. Some of the biggest College football teams average 80,000 spectators to each home game throughout the year. To put that into perspective, it means that they get the same crowds every week as the Australian Rules Football Collingwood verses Essendon ANZAC day clash.
College football is not as you know it to be like here in Australia.
College football is a professional football outfit and is a multi billion dollar industry which is taken very seriously. Although athletes are not financial rewarded, they do receive a scholarship to College to which can value upwards of $250,000. Doesn’t sound too bad considering Australians are getting involved in this for just kicking the ball.
The NFL is very different in this regard and is classed as a sporting profession which enables players to get paid and sometimes very handsomely at that. The first year rookie wage is $350,000 and will typically increase every year.
A player who is contracted to an NFL team can be cut from the team after signing a contract without being paid. This means that the turnover of players is very constant, however this also gives you a fantastic opportunity to strive for glory in the NFL arena. Always remember, you need to be the best otherwise they will get someone else who can do the job better.
Prokick has sent numerous players to colleges, the NFL and the CFL. According to Chapman, Cameron Johnston has serious potential.
"I do have in my film him punting the ball 80 yards, and I’ve got him on film with hang times of 5.2 to 5.4 (seconds)," he told the Dispatch. "(It’s) continually 65 yards, ball after ball after ball."
But you don't need to take Chapman's word for it, there's also a Youtube video exhibiting these numbers.
Chapman also told the Dispatch that if he hadn't had an opportunity with Ohio State this year, he would have enrolled at Alabama next year.
Unless Johnston is too good to be true, what was certainly a concern for the Buckeyes this season could actually turn out to be a strength.
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