By: Michael Hanich | Sports Editor
Some of the most overlooked players on a football team are the punters and kickers. For the South Alabama Jaguars, they have a reliable punter from an abnormal place. Freshman punter Jack Brooks is looking to help the Jaguars win big games this season. He looks to do in his first season away from his home in New South Wales, Australia.
Brooks is from a hometown called Wagga Wagga in New South Wales. At 26 years old, Brooks was rated as a top-25 punter as a two-star recruit in the recruiting class of 2019. Usually, a coach gets a hold of high school player’s footage through the players or through their coaches. Coming from Australia, it can be more difficult to get playing footage out to coaches. In an interview with Brooks, he said, “It was my coaches back in Australia, where they were sending film everywhere we could and South picked up interest, so went from there with them. Done more film for them and now we’re happy.”
Brooks comes from a long line of punters from the country of Australia. The most noticeable punters from Australia is former LSU Tigers (2011-2012) and former Utah Utes and current San Francisco 49ers punter Mitch Wishnowsky. There are currently many other players from the country of Australia playing for other College Football programs.
When asked about Australia being a new Mecca for punters in America, he said, “They’re all over here as well. We’ve got all group chats, so we keep up with one another and see how everyone is going and stuff, so it’s like another family away from home.”
It wasn’t an easy transition coming from another country especially as far as Australia. Brooks mentioned the biggest differences of America compared to Australia by saying, “Just all the little things. The food, different type of culture. Driving on the other side of the road. Just all the little things you wouldn’t think wouldn’t affect you, but you get used to that. Dry heat back in Australia, it’s very wet here, real humid, so yeah trying to adapt to that at training to wearing pads and a helmet. “
There is one more noticeable difference between Australia and America is the definition of the type of punts that Brooks likes to utilize. A big rule for most punters is to not allow returns from the punt returners. For most traditional punts, they try to kick the ball high for a long hang-time for the defenders to tackle the returner or force him to fair catch the ball to not allow a return. For Brooks and most Australian punters, they prefer the running start to the slide and punt the ball just outside of the numbers. Brooks said, “What you call them here is rollout/rugby punts but it’s actually Ozzy Rules Punts. It’s just a different wording.”
Typical, these punts are shorter than the traditional style of punts, but Brooks has put some distance with his punts. In the game against UAB last weekend, Brooks punted the ball six times for a total of 270 yards thus averaging 45-yards per punt. His longest punt went for 55-yards. Brooks will continue to be an impactful player for the Jaguars this season as they start Sun Belt Conference play this Saturday at the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks.