Florida punter Jeremy Crawshaw surprised fans with his quick sprint to convert a fake punt against Vanderbilt on Saturday. But to the former rugby player from Emu Plains, Australia, his dash was no shock.
Crawshaw, 20, arrived in Gainesville at 18. He’s now a redshirt freshman who made the SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll last year. Crwashaw has left behind his dreams of being a professional rugby player to take on the challenge of adjusting his slang usage. Oh, and playing college football in front of 90,000 fans, something his hometown neighbors are in awe of.
Ahead of Saturday’s noon matchup against LSU, his parents (shown in the fourth picture) won’t have to worry about waking up in the middle of the night to watch him like they are willing to do every game. Instead, they’ll put Gator signs outside their house and enjoy a primetime game.
Crawshaw Rugby Foundation
Hearing the fake play call on Saturday wasn’t daunting for Crawshaw. Instead, the kicker felt excited and went all out with his run. Crawshaw earned 28 yards.
The 6 foot 4 inches kicker grew up playing as a rugby winger due to his thin frame. He had dreams to play for the Rugby League team in the town next over: the Penrith Panthers. Hence, he ran the ball all the time.
Crawshaw said he started too late to succeed professionally. So, he hung up that dream and decided to look for something else. He always had American football in the back of his head and found an avenue through Prokick Football.
Prokick Australia has operated out of Melbourne since 2007 to help Australian athletes make a smooth transition into American football.
To make it into the group, potential kickers go through an assessment to see if their leg is strong enough to make it as a kicker. The program runs with about 30 players. The athletes, of course, learn how to perform a punt and face pressure situations during training.
The guys in the Prokick program are good blokes, Crawshaw says. They form a tight group and take pictures after the game whenever they play each other. Rising, Crawshaw looked up to program alum Cameron Johnson, who now plays for the Houston Texans.
When college football coaches look to fill a roster spot, they inform the program of the type of kicker they want.
American Football Recruiting
Florida reached out when Tommy Townsend was leaving. Crawshaw’s big leg was supposedly the Gators’ primary motivation, he says. For his part, Crawshaw kept his focus on UF during the recruiting process and took a trip out to Gainesville.
Though he was jet-lagged for the first three days, Crawshaw along with his mom and dad spent a week getting shown around the UF campus. He felt like such a VIP that he now wishes more Australians could enjoy the recruiting experience.
Australians know about the NFL, but his neighbors hadn’t heard about college football when he started participating in football kicking. People expected the vibe of the Division III schools in the middle of Kansas as his destination. When they saw the stadium and the 90,000 fans, they thought it was crazy because rugby doesn’t have that many fans until the Grand Final (the AFL version of the Super Bowl). The Emu Plains residents have started watching the Gators play, and a few guys want to follow in Crawshaw’s footsteps.
Crawshaw Adjusting to Football & Slang in America
Crawshaw said the language barrier was initially the most difficult thing to adjust to. Yes, he is a native English speaker, but the slang of the two countries are very different. He’s toned his slang down a little bit, so Americans don’t look at him sideways.
The kicker gave an example of some Australian slang he likes to use, like petrol.
Crawshaw likes Chick-fil-A a lot. Australia doesn’t have fast food, so getting to eat chicken nuggets from a drive-thru has been a nice benefit.
When the team goes out at Outback Steakhouse, everyone asks him if Outback is a real thing. He does, indeed, have an Outback Steakhouse. So, it’s somewhat authentic, he says.
Crawshaw has had a few people approach him about NIL deals, but he’s ineligible because he’s in America on a student visa. The Australians acknowledged that has been a little frustrating.
However, he said as long as he’s at UF playing football, he is over the moon.
Being in America is a big privilege for Crawshaw, he says. He would be happy for any offer. Getting to play at UF, a home for him, and run out in front of all the fans, makes it extra special.
Crawshaw will punt for the Gators at Death Valley on Saturday, another iconic American stadium. The game will air at noon on ESPN.