I still remember jumping off my United Airlines flight in 2013 and taking my first steps in Huntsville.

For those of you who haven’t heard of Huntsville before, it’s a really small country town in the state of Texas, where the local population would be no more than 40,000.

As you could imagine, with a town as small as Huntsville, everyone knows everyone!

Like a lot of Australians, my outlook on America was from TV; movies like American Pie and as you know Hollywood they blow everything out of proportion.

Some things are true at the root of it but most of it is just blown out of proportion. It’s been good to get here and learn about America while I’m basically living the American dream I guess you could say.

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I’ve been able to see a lot of the country by playing football and I can never be anything but grateful for Americans and America in general because they’ve given me so much already in five years.

Everyone has welcomed me with open arms, so I can’t complain about anything that’s happened here in America yet.

Recently, I’ve bought a house in Austin, Texas. This is my base in the off-season.

My girlfriend is a nurse here in Austin and we finally got a place here that we can sort of call our home base, while I’ll travel back to New Jersey throughout the season and off-season for training.

So this whole break between OTAs and training camp, I’ve just been here setting up the house.

Fellow Aussie Jordan Berry from the Pittsburgh Steelers, came down for a week and we worked out, punted and hung out around Texas.

I had my deep snapper come down and we got a week of work in as well.

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I’ve got one week before I’ve got to report for training camp, so I’ve been trying to scramble and get the house sorted and I’m finally to the point where I can sit down and relax. 

I’ve had my fair share challenges since making the decision to pursue American football.

When I first got to Sam Houston I was told I was going to have a full scholarship, after the first couple of weeks I learnt that it was only going to be a half scholarship.

So straight away, pretty quickly I was kind of nervous about whether I could even stay here or not, I didn’t really have a chance to save up a lot of money before I left, so when I got here and I was told there’s really only half scholarship for you I was kind of scrambling with my parents.

I ended up finding a really cheap apartment with one of my teammates and I basically struggled through the first season.

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My Mum would send me $100 per month and $40 of that would be on phone bills, so it wasn’t a lavish life when I first got here.

It was pretty rough going, but I had a good support system of teammates and the football program, and then I met my partner Alli in my first year.

I had a really good season, I ended up being Second Team All-Conference so I had a good football season.

I was doing really well in the classroom, but that was really the first challenge.

The second challenge came after my second year. In the playoffs in my second season, I was having a great season. I ended up being Third Team All-American and I was All-Conference and All-Academic. However during the playoffs I tore my left ACL in the first playoff game.

That was a big challenge being in America; not on full scholarship, now I tore my ACL. The school obviously paid for most of it, well they pay for everything past your insurance.

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That set me back a lot after having such a good year where I’m thinking I’m doing really well, and now I’m sort of back to square one.

I had my left ACL repaired; I had about 60% of my meniscus taken out, and I had a grade two MCL strain.

The next six months was just rehab for me, trying to work out as much as I can, but I can’t put any weight on my legs. I can’t squat, I can’t run, so that was a big setback.

I managed to get healthy enough for my senior year, but it kind of changed my punting technique a little bit.

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I went from your traditional college two-step punter to almost a full three-step guy, because just the way my knee was, I still wasn’t fully comfortable on it.

I had a brace on it, and it was my plant leg it so there was so much torque through that knee every time I planted.

I was able to play through the season, I didn’t have any pain, but I was pretty wary any time I had to make a tackle or anything.

That was the main challenge, but finally going into my last year I was on full scholarship. We had a coaching change as well during my time at Sam Houston State so I had a new special teams coach and a new head coach.

So there was a lot of transition, and a lot of things going on throughout my college career.

Little hurdles we had to get around or over. By the time my senior year came around I still wasn’t thinking that I had the NFL on my horizon.

I had a few people say some things to me, but I just sort of took it as everyone at college dreams about playing in the NFL and that’s why they’re there.

That’s why they’re playing college football. But I never really put too much thought into it because I was just happy to go there and play college and take in the experience. 

Fast forward to where I am now and the season I’ve just had…it certainly gives me a sense of confidence knowing I am headed in the right direction.

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I didn’t have any sort of strength going into the season in my leg so by the time I got to the draft combine and training for the draft and private workouts, I was doing so much that I couldn’t really get in the weight room and get some strength that was gonna help me play throughout the season.

Cause once you get to the NFL, your first season after your college season is basically one full long season where you play in college, playoffs, draft combine, working out and then you go straight into the NFL for seventeen weeks.

I didn’t have the greatest season, I wasn’t happy with how I played. I put some of it down to inexperience, I also put some down to how my preparation into my first year, I didn’t really know how to attack it because I came off that ACL, played the full season and graduated college.

I had so much going on that I couldn’t really focus just on punting. I was trying to make sure my knees were good, I was trying to get some strength up, I was trying to do too much at once.

Coming into my 2017 season I had a lot of time, I put on nearly a hundred pounds on my squat. That was really good in helping me get throughout the season and being able to stay strong the whole season without fatiguing too much.

I went and worked out with Darren Bennett in San Diego and I spent a lot of time with him just working on my punts, he’s been really good for me specifically. After working out with him a few times he doesn’t even let me pay him anymore. He treats me like his son almost.

It makes me all the more excited for what’s next!