Alabama Crimson Tide: No football experience needed for Tide scholly

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Lack of football experience is no problem for the latest Alabama Crimson Tide verbal commit. Australian kicker James Burnip has never played in an American-version football game.

That is no problem for Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide. As reported by Andrew Bone of Rivals, Saban was so impressed with Burnip the young man was offered a scholarship that counts in the 2021 signing class. Scholarships are not usually available to Crimson Tide punters and kickers. Most have to ‘walk-on’ and hope to later earn a scholarship. Burnip must be a very special punter because Alabama football insiders have said for months there would be no more additions to the 2021 class, except – making a spot available if J.T. Tuimoloau picks the Crimson Tide in July.

Whatever adjustments are required, Tuimoloau will still have a spot should he choose the Crimson Tide.

Burnip was on track to join Ole Miss in the 2022 class, but a chance to play for Nick Saban in the 2021 season ended his plans of relocating to Oxford, MS.

The extensive player ratings of potential college football players do not cover punters from Australia. One source, that uses familiar 1-to-5 star ratings, rates Australian punters. They gave Burnip a 4.5 Star rating.

In his announcement of the change from Ole Miss to Alabama, Burnip gave plenty of credit to an Australian group, Pro Kick Australia for teaching him to become an American football punter. Burnip was an  Australian Rules football player; a sport that is closer to soccer and rugby than it is to American football. Kicking a ‘not-round’ ball a long way is a big deal in Australian Rules Football. Apparently, the six-foot-six Burnip is very good at kicking a ball a long way.

What Pro Kick Australia does is take a select group of prospects and provides them with months of extensive training. The expected payoff for the young Australians is a college scholarship to be a punter – and a path to punting in the NFL.

The group’s track record is impressive. They claim 75 scholarships or pro contracts in the United States; 17 college football All-Americans and five Ray Guy Award winners. It is no wonder one of their punters would be on Nick Saban’s radar.

Many colleges have had Australian or rugby kickers. Burnip will be a first for the Alabama Crimson Tide.

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How well Burnip develops or how quickly he enters an Alabama Crimson Tide game is not known. When he does, it will be his first (American) football game – ever.