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My recruiting rollercoaster

Former Ute All American Tom Hackett shares his own experience as a Utah recruit...

It was the year 2011 that changed my life for the better - a year filled with determination and ambition. A new dream was born, to play Division 1 football. This was a feat very few Australian men had attempted back then. After convincing my parents that this was best for me, I embarked on a journey that truly was bigger than I could have ever imagined.

Throughout my recruitment process, I noticed one familiar trait in American coaches: the unwillingness to offer me a scholarship due to my lack of football playing experience. This trait continued with a gentleman named Jay Hill, the man and coach I would end up committing to (as a preferred walk-on). Coach Hill gave me hope that other coaches struggled with. He was able to communicate with me in a way that made me feel safe about my decision to come to Salt Lake City. It also helped that he made the trip to Melbourne for a weekend to check out what ProKick Australia - the punting academy that helped me learn the game - was all about.

I did not have many options if I am honest; I had conversations with New Mexico State, Florida Atlantic University, Old Dominion and a few other irrelevant football colleges. Later in my recruitment process however, LSU gave me a tease but my good friend and fellow ProKick Australian Jamie Keehn ended up committing there. In fact, Jamie was flirting with the idea of committing to Utah as a preferred walk-on before LSU came chasing. It was then that the door opened for me to accept the position at the University of Utah.

Shortly after the Utah door opening for me, I came on my unofficial recruiting trip; I figured it would probably be worth checking out the city in which I plan on spending at least the next four years, which just so happens to be on the other side of the world, to make sure I like it. My recruiting trip went like this: Nick Marsh (former Utah kicker) took care of me, we partied, I drank too much and passed out in the neighbors' front lawn, Nick nearly had a heart attack because he thought he lost me, we ate the best Mexican food I had ever tasted at this point in my life and it was then that I realized this place is survivable.

When I left Melbourne for good, I was informed by my father that I had one year to earn a scholarship at Utah. If I was unable to succeed then I would have to either earn a scholarship at another institution or come home. Thankfully, I earned my scholarship with limited time to spare. The rest is history.

The original video that caught the eyes of Coach Hill is below. Feel free to check it out:


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