Former Hawthorn defenseman Damon Greaves joined former teammate Jackson Ross at the top level of college football, signing on punts for the University of Kansas.
Greaves officially signed with the Jayhawks, who compete in the Big 12 conference, on Thursday morning.
The former rookie draftee played 10 games for Hawthorn during the 2019-21 seasons, then spent a year with East Perth in the WAFL before making a bid to join Australia’s many star players on the grid.
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Greaves becomes the second former Hawk to enter the top tier of college football’s punting ranks. Jackson Ross, who spent three years on the Hawthorn slate without a senior debut, signed with the University of Tennessee last year.
Both Kansas and Tennessee are schools in one of five “conferences of power,” made up of 68 schools that sign top players and almost always make up contenders for the national championship.
Bulldogs’ Josh Bruce and Hawks’ Damon Greaves in a 2020 game. (Photo by Matt Turner/AFL Photos via Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
They are part of a growing group of former AFL players who dream of making the NFL after getting a college education in the United States, with former Collingwood player Flynn Appleby aiming for New Jersey’s Rutgers University, although last season he was supporting Ray Guy Award winner and compatriot Adam Korsak.
Former Fremantle player Max Duffy won the Ray Guy Award for the best punter of the college football season in 2019, as the influence of groups like ProKick Australia continues to spread.
Aussies competed at the top level of the sport in 2022 with three of the four college football playoff teams having one at the punter: Ohio State’s Jesse Mirco from Western Australia and Victorian duo Brett Thorson (eventual champions from Georgia ) and Jordy Sandy (TCU).
Iowa-away-Melbourne’s Tory Taylor was an All-American while Mason Fletcher (Cincinnati) and Max Fletcher (Arkansas), sons of Essendon great Dustin, faced off in an early season game.
In the NFL, former St Kilda player Arryn Siposs is hoping to make a comeback from punt injury for Philadelphia in the Super Bowl, after his Eagles defeated Mitch Wishnowsky’s 49ers in the NFC championship game.
Seattle’s Michael Dickson and Houston’s Cameron Johnston are also aiming for the elite level.