Gophers' 28-year-old punter Mark Crawford part of kicking invasion from Australia

BleedGopher

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per Randy:

Growing up in Perth on Australia's southwest coast, Mark Crawford played both Australian Rules Football and cricket, two of his country's passions. His first exposure to American football came on Feb. 2, 2014, at age 20.

"Russell Wilson smashed the Denver Broncos, and I became a Seahawk moving forward,'' Crawford said of Seattle's 43-8 romp in Super Bowl XLVII. "… The way he went about it, it inspired me a little bit.''

Little did Crawford know at the time that he'd eventually embark on a football journey that would take him half a world away.

Crawford, an affable 28-year-old, is entering his third season as the Gophers starting punter as the opening week of training camp continues. He came on strong in 2021, averaging 41.7 yards on his 47 punts, placing 24 inside the opponent's 20-yard line and booming six 50 yards or more.

Crawford is part of a growing number of Australians who are excelling as punters in American football. He's an alum of Prokick Australia, a Melbourne-based program that started in 2007 and as of January had 190 players awarded football scholarships at various levels. Last year, 56 Prokick alums dotted the rosters of the 130 FBS programs. In the Big Ten, seven of the 14 schools have Prokick alums on their 2022 rosters.

"Ideally, we want the Big Ten Takeover, which is where we get all the punters in the Big Ten to be Australian,'' Crawford said. "But that's obviously a big ambition.'' Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio State, Purdue and Rutgers join the Gophers with Prokick punters on their rosters.

Crawford, immersed in the Gophers' rivalries, was quick to add, "I wouldn't want to give one to Wisconsin, though.''


Go Gophers!!
 

Taji34

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I know he started his career later than most since he is from Australia and went to Prokick, but it still shocks me when I hear his age. He's at least 1 year older than I am (possibly 2 depending on when his birthday is), and I graduated 5 years ago.
 

Plato

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Kicking got him a trip to the US and a college scholarship.
I hope he makes full use of his scholarship because making the next step to punt in the NFL may be a bridge too far.
 

MNVCGUY

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I know he started his career later than most since he is from Australia and went to Prokick, but it still shocks me when I hear his age. He's at least 1 year older than I am (possibly 2 depending on when his birthday is), and I graduated 5 years ago.
I was surprised to see he was 28. I knew he was older than the typical college student but it is funny to consider that he is 10 years older than some of the incoming freshman and they play on the same COLLEGE team.
 

Dakota2

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I was surprised to see he was 28. I knew he was older than the typical college student but it is funny to consider that he is 10 years older than some of the incoming freshman and they play on the same COLLEGE team.
I was surprised to see he was 28. I knew he was older than the typical college student but it is funny to consider that he is 10 years older than some of the incoming freshman and they play on the same COLLEGE team.
Richard Coffee was a little younger when he started his Gopher basketball career after a few years jumping out of airplanes with the Army's 82nd Air Division.
 





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