Beyond the Game: UAPB's kicker is a Scotland native, former rugby player

Jamie Gillan (KATV photo)

It is almost unheard of. In fact, even Arkansas-Pine Bluff kicker and punter Jamie Gillan struggles to wrap his mind around his own journey.

"It's a little weird. A lot of people train their whole lives to get in this position, and I get a fluke shot."

Born in England, Gillan grew up in Scotland. Naturally, he played rugby. He even earned a scholarship to play the sport at a boarding school.

But when his father, a member of the Royal Armed Forces, was assigned to Maryland's Eastern Shore, Jamie came with him. Football quickly caught his eye.

"I just happen to see someone miss an extra point and I'm like, I'm pretty sure I can do that."

He decided to kick for his high school team in Leonardtown, Maryland. A friend noticed a Facebook post that said Arkansas-Pine Bluff was looking for a kicker. They were offering a full scholarship.

Sight unseen, Gillan accepted. He called his move to Pine Bluff a "culture shock."

"I didn't even know Arkansas existed. They were like, 'you want to come and play football for us?' I was like, 'yeah, I'm in!'"

His gamble paid off, both for himself and UAPB. Last year, he averaged 43.4 yards per punt, eighth best in the FCS. He tallied 12 touch-backs on kick offs.

Gillan enters his senior season with NFL scouts keeping their eyes on him. Some have visited campus, according to the school.

Perhaps most interesting is his unorthodox style. Instead of taking three steps back and two to the side, Gillan goes from a 45 degree angle, as one would in rugby.

The routine feels fitting for a story that is just as unorthodox.

"It's crazy," he said.

Jamie Gillan is proof that life is full of unexpected twists and turns. Never punt on them.

"You got opportunities in life. You just gotta take it."

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