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Jamie Gillan will make his NFL debut for the Cleveland Browns in Nashville today

How Jamie Gillan, the Scottish Hammer, went from rugby-loving teen to Cleveland Browns punter

  • Inverness-born Jamie Gillan was rugby-mad but moved to the US aged 16
  • With a thumping right boot, he punted at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
  • Gillan, 22, went undrafted but was picked up by the Browns in April
  • The Scottish Hammer earned a spot on the Browns 53-man roster 
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A move to America forced rugby-mad Jamie Gillan to reconsider his dream of playing for Scotland, so he booted his way into the NFL instead.

Inverness-born Gillan was a promising fly-half, but will make his debut today as punter for the Cleveland Browns at the Tennessee Titans.

Known as the Scottish Hammer due to his impressive right leg, Gillan found out he had made the Browns roster while in the Flying Monkey Pub in Cleveland.

‘It was like D-Day, everyone was finding out if they were cut or put on the practice squad or traded or making the team. I didn’t have a whole lot of emotions to be honest. I think my dad was more emotional and nervous than I was because I knew what I had done in the past four months,’ the 22-year-old said. 

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Jamie Gillan will make his NFL debut for the Cleveland Browns in Nashville today

Jamie Gillan will make his NFL debut for the Cleveland Browns in Nashville today

Gillan, who went undrafted after attending college at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, was chosen ahead of veteran punter Britton Colquitt, a Super Bowl winner.

It was Gillan’s ability as a holder – and his love of a tackle, a rarity for a punter – which swayed the decision in his favour.

Browns Special Teams Co-ordinator Mike Priefer said: ‘I think it would have been very difficult to let a guy like Jamie out of the building. He is so talented. Got such a big leg swing. The sky is the limit for him.

‘I think he is just scratching the surface on how good he can be and how good of a punter and holder he can be in this league.’  

The Inverness-born punter grew up playing rugby but his big boot has landed him in the NFL

The Inverness-born punter grew up playing rugby but his big boot has landed him in the NFL

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The Inverness-born punter grew up playing rugby but his big boot has landed him in the NFL

Born in Inverness, Gillan moved to the United States aged 16 when his father, an RAF navigator, was posted to Maryland. 

He continued to play rugby but took up American football as a pastime, playing as kicker in High School.

Yet his aptitude meant that offers of scholarships would duly arrive.

During a four-year college career Gillan managed 9,024 yards on 214 attempts and averaged 42.2 yards per punt. His longest was an enormous 80 yards.

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And after joining the Browns in April, Gillan finds himself on one of the NFL’s most intriguing rosters.

With superstar receiver Odell Beckham Jnr and second-year quarterback Baker Mayfield, there is hope that Browns can end a playoff drought which stretches back to 2002, the longest in the NFL.

Second-year quarterback Baker Mayfield will hope to build on an impressive rookie season

Second-year quarterback Baker Mayfield will hope to build on an impressive rookie season

Second-year quarterback Baker Mayfield will hope to build on an impressive rookie season

‘They’ve been fantastic,’ Gillan said of his illustrious team-mates. ‘I get a bit of a rookie banter, people just having a little laugh you know but at the end of the day everybody has been supportive and fantastic. They know how cut-throat the business is and I feel like in this business you need to show that you’re a team player.

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‘Everybody can see the people who are there for themselves or those who want to be a team player. If you keep working really hard and tell them that you want to be on this team and want to be great, people will respond well. That’s just how I’ve always been. I’m always going be a team player. I’m always going to want to win with the team. I did not like losing at all when I was young. So that’s how I am, and I’ve been getting along with everybody and I always will.’

Odell Beckham Jnr joined the Browns to give Cleveland a generational talent at wide receiver

Odell Beckham Jnr joined the Browns to give Cleveland a generational talent at wide receiver

Odell Beckham Jnr joined the Browns to give Cleveland a generational talent at wide receiver

Watch Jamie Gillan in action as the Cleveland Browns host the Tennessee Titans today on Sky Sports Action at 5pm and Sky Sports Main Event at 6pm. You can also catch-up on the action on Tuesday with the NFL This Week highlights show available on BBC Two and iPlayer.