Tennessee football punter Jackson Ross: Australian player's dislike for Outback Steakhouse
Tennessee punter Jackson Ross, originally from Australia, has taken a unique path to college football. He has mastered various punting techniques and has worked with a former NFL Pro Bowler. Ross has also adapted to American food and has a preference for Raising Canes Chicken Fingers. He attended Haileybury College in Melbourne and played for the Hawthorn Football Club before transitioning to college football. Ross is considered a tremendous athlete and has impressed with his throwing arm. He believes he is better than Coach Heupel, but Heupel disagrees. Ross has spent years kicking and punting footballs, making it a natural skill for him. He has gradually learned American football and is now a redshirt freshman at Tennessee.
Tennessee punter Jackson Ross has had a unique journey from Australia to college football. Standing at 6-foot-3 and weighing 195 pounds, Ross hails from Melbourne, Australia. Before coming to Tennessee, Ross played Australian rules football, but now he's a redshirt freshman making his debut this season.
There are several interesting things to know about Ross, the Vols' starting punter. One notable aspect is his ability to punt in various ways, including rollout rugby style and straightforward drop kicks. He has honed his skills with the help of Dustin Colquitt, a former Tennessee standout and NFL Pro Bowler.
When Ross signed with Tennessee over a year ago, he hinted that he had a few tricks up his sleeve that he would reveal once he got into the game. This adds an element of excitement and anticipation to his performances.
On a lighter note, Ross mentioned that he has consumed more food since living in the United States than he ever did in Australia. He particularly enjoys Raising Canes Chicken Fingers, a fast-food restaurant in Knoxville. However, he doesn't hold the same enthusiasm for Outback Steakhouse, an Australian-themed chain restaurant, dismissing it as irrelevant.
Ross attended Haileybury College in Melbourne before playing three seasons for the Hawthorn Football Club, a professional Australian rules football franchise. While the crowds at these games weren't as large as the 100,000-plus fans at Neyland Stadium, Ross still had the opportunity to perform in front of audiences ranging from 20,000 to 40,000.
Interestingly, Ross thought he was going to be released by Hawthorn until Tory Taylor, an All-American punter at Iowa, recommended that he enroll in Prokick Australia. Taylor, a friend and fellow Australian footballer, went through Prokick, a program that assists Australian athletes in transitioning to college football and the NFL. Ross now stays connected with about six Australian punters in college football through a group chat.
According to special teams coordinator Mike Ekeler, Ross is not only a tremendous athlete but also has one of the best throwing arms on the team. Ross himself even jokingly claimed to be better than Coach Heupel, the head coach of the Vols, due to his age and being in his prime. However, Heupel, a former Heisman Trophy runner-up and national title-winning quarterback at Oklahoma, found this claim to be ridiculous.
Ross admitted that he had little experience throwing a football before coming to Tennessee. In Australia, they focus more on punting and kicking the ball. He has been doing this almost every day for the past 20 years, so it comes naturally to him. Learning American football has been a gradual process for Ross.
In 2021, Ross started watching college football games to familiarize himself with the sport and explore his options in the United States. The following year, he enrolled at Tennessee and took a redshirt year to further acclimate to the new environment. He confessed that when he saw a penalty flag thrown during a Vols game, he didn't initially understand its significance.
In conclusion, Jackson Ross's journey from Australia to Tennessee is an intriguing one. His background in Australian rules football adds a unique aspect to his punting skills. With his dedication to perfecting his craft and his willingness to learn American football, Ross has become an integral part of the Vols' special teams. His story serves as a reminder that talent and determination can take you far, even across continents.