Jamie Gillan: Scot’s remarkable rise from rugby-daft teen to Cleveland Browns punter

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From Jonathan Holloway
For BBC Sport Scotland
Jamie Gillan arrived as a teenager who had never watched American soccer in the US and hadn’t any intention of playing the game.
Six decades after, the Scot will make his NFL debut after procuring the task as Cleveland Browns‘ punter.
It’s a rise to prominence for Gillan – known’The Scottish Hammer‘ – who has ousted former Super Bowl champion Britton Colquitt, a 10-year NFL veteran, for a place to the Browns‘ 53-man roster.
Here, the 22-year-old tells BBC Scotland about the slog of 18-hour college days, bringing skills to the NFL, also sharing kilt etiquette.
There was cared about growing up in Inverness. By going out to attend school boarding in Edinburgh, desperate to play for his country, he followed his dream.
„I was totally rugby angry and still miss it,“ he says. „The only real reason I decided to visit Merchiston was because of all of the men they’d placed through to Scotland.“
It was there, because of promising fly-half, he created his talent for kicking off when his career took a different trajectory, that would come in miles.
His father, also a navigator with the Royal Air Force, was posted to Maryland and the household, for example a 16-year-old Jamie, left Scotland for a new life Stateside.
Then, he fell to a end. After chasing rugby regionally Gillan approached the trainer of his high school soccer team with the intent of kicking his way onto the team to be able to keep fit throughout the football off-season.
With a couple of tweaks to his technique, Gillan became offers of scholarships to play college soccer and an accomplished kicker began to arrive.
„I was a tiny bit undersized in Scotland,“ he said. „When I came out here, I had been hoping to get larger and I just happened to see the football side and that I was like,’I might too offer a it a‘ blast‘.
„All my mates have been telling me you could get scholarships for kicking a ball and I didn’t believe them . But I thought I’d give it a try once I saw the man missing field objectives.“
Gillan instantly made a name for himself in the fiercely competitive school game with the University of Arkansas Pine-Bluff, punting options in his seminar and becoming one of the best kicking.
Within his paralegal profession, he handled 9,024 yards on 214 attempts and averaged 42.2 yards per cent. His longest punt was a 80 yards and he also achieved 27 punts that surpassed 50 yards.
However, the life of a university athlete is a demanding one and Gillan discovered the balance of studies and sport gruelling.
„It was unreal, really hard,“ he explained. „Up at 4.30am, running till you can not breathe, and then you have got four courses afterwards, then encounters, then weightlifting. Then you’ve got meetings during the night, then research hall from 8.30pm till 11pm, and then you are up at 4am. It’s a ridiculous schedule but you just did it just like everyone else.“
His consistency and left foot contributed to interest using all the Browns first by inviting Gillan prior to the 2019 draft into Ohio for a visit to show their hand.
Punters are among the places in the draft because the league’s 32 teams replenish their ranks with the faculty gift that is young, so Gillan wasn’t too deflated when he moved unpicked.
„But I got a phone call following the fifth round out of a trainer here and that he was saying he had been hoping I don’t get picked up,“ he said. „Then, after the draft ended, many other teams known as wanting to bring me in as a free agent. But there was no question, I was likely to return to the Browns as they’d shown me a great deal of love.“
Mixing the Browns Gillan featured in pre-season games, crunching into returners using handling which helped him set him apart. And despite the massive step-up in spotlight and quality that he was not fazed, edging outside Colquitt to find the nod.
„I understand a lot of people get anxious and things but for me it was interesting,“ he explained. „We had a huge crowd for the first match, bigger than any I have ever played in front of in Arkansas. But when I moved out there it wasn’t like a belly of butterflies, shaky legs, or worried – it was just ultra focus“
A locker room is now shared by the Scottish Hammer with a few of the most well-known names in American sport.
The NFL’s biggest trade of the off year saw superstar receiver Odell Beckham Jr arrive from the New York Giants in Cleveland. And after wearing a kilt into the Met Gala, Beckham could be wishing he had sought the advice of his fresh.
„It was funny,“ Gillan said“I did need to tell himthoughhe wore it the wrong way. He wore the item entirely backward. I informed him and he was not shocked. He was like,’Are you certain?‘ . I was like,’Yeah, I friend! He’s been great craic.“
On the chance of his fame, Gillan is carrying it all in his stride.
„I really don’t think I am famous however,“ he explained. „But it’s cool to have a few fans and individuals taking the whole Scottish Hammer thing and running with it. It is pretty funny.“
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