Richard Davenport has been a recruiting columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette since 2007. He also hosts Recruiting Thursday each Thursday from 7 to 8 p.m. statewide.
A coach Down Under inspires Irwin-Hill
Arkansas signee and punter Sam Irwin- Hill, a native of Bendingo, Australia, left his homeland to travel to the United States to play college football and hopefully the NFL after the urging of Nathan Chapman, a coach at Pro Kick Australia.
Chapman works at the academy that helps kickers with Division I potential find schools in the United States.
"He pretty much told me I had the potential to maybe one day play in the NFL if I went through the college route," Irwin-Hill said. "That really, really helped me because it was good to know that and it kind of enlightened me in a way. It was inspiring that a coach actually said that to me. Pretty much having a big foot, a big kick really did help me. "
Irwin-Hill, 6-3, 215 pounds eventually found his way to City College of San Francisco and earned All-American honors as a sophomore after averaging 41.7 yards a punt. Arkansas graduate assistant Terrance Butler began recruiting him after he averaged 40.6 yards a punt as a freshman.
"He's a really nice guy and made me feel comfortable." Irwin-Hill said.
Irwin-Hill's parents will try and make their way to Fayetteville for some games but if not the SEC television package should ease the pain of not seeing the games in person.
"I'm sure they will but if they don't they'll watch it on TV back home," Irwin-Hill said. "That's the best part it will be on TV and you won't have to search a different website to try and find the links."
Moving from Australia to the United States at such a young age had its adjustments but was made easier by the
"The people have been the easiest part of coming over to live is the fact the people are so nice," Irwin-Hill said. "I think the biggest adjustment would be living by myself and not knowing a single person and having to come into a country and not knowing anyone at all."
"It's been a big task and the biggest adjustment because back in Australia you have family and you feel comfortable."
As reported in Sunday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Irwin-Hill does miss being able to enjoy two of his favorite dishes.
"It's the simple things like being able to go into a bakery and not being able to get a meat pie or a sausage roll." he said.
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