An NFL punter has to do more than simply kick the ball as far as possible. He has to have a deft touch in order to force the receiving team to accept poor field position. Punts taken from near mid-field are brought out to the twenty-yard line if they travel into the end zone without being fielded by the receiving team or downed by the kicking team.
It is this ability, demonstrated over the course of his career with the University of Utah Utes side that has attracted the attention of NFL scouts to Tom Hackett just ahead of the NFL draft.
The draft officially gets underway Friday morning, Australia time. Hackett, displaying typical Aussie nonchalance, says he plans to spend the three days that the draft occupies playing golf, visiting with his mum and have a couple of lagers with his mates.
Hackett is projected to be taken between the fifth and seventh rounds of the selection process, a rarity in a league that seldom drafts punters at all and usually just signs them based on tryouts, since there are only 32 jobs available and hundreds of worthy candidates.
The young man from Victoria has won the Ray Guy Award for best college punter two years running, but will have to adapt his rugby-style punts to conform to NFL expectations.