Jamie Gillan, NFL’s mightiest rugby player
Jamie Gillan is on his way to developing into a top punter in the NFL, but that is only where it starts. The Scottish Hammer really is a star rugby player and has an athletic ability that has never really been put on display by the Browns so far. He obviously has the ability to kick the shinola out of an American football, having on occasion exploded a football or two in practice. Talk about deflategate! Tom Brady has nothing on Jamie Gillan.
Parlor tricks notwithstanding, Gillan can run with the football, which he did in college, as shown in the photo from his days as an Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lion.
Gillan can also dropkick with either foot if the Browns need an on-side kick. That is absolutely crazy. No one has used the dropkick in a game that counted since the days of Jim Thorpe. Gillan did it one time against the Patriots last season and it almost worked for a recovery.
To attempt a dropkick, the team lines up in field goal formation, but without the holder. The kicker lines up like a punter and catches the hiked ball from the center. He then drops the ball and kicks it as it hits the turf or a split second afterward. Because Gillan is a rugby player he’s an expert in drop-kicking and can put a spin on the ball making it very difficult to catch, and can go either left or right, and thus the defense is not able to know where the ball is going until the last split second. This could be a fantastic play.
By the way, I would be remiss to not mention that Justin Tucker also tried the dropkick last season. If someone needs an on-sides kick, it could happen on Sunday.
One thing we have never seen him do is throw the football. That is not done in rugby, although just because it is not done in rugby does not mean he has no skill at throwing the football. It does mean that he has no game experience with it, however.
Special teams coach Mike Priefer didn’t run too many trick plays with Gillan last year, preferring to have him concentrate on becoming the best punter and holder that he could be. But after an entire offseason to think about it, very likely they have expanded Gillan’s playbook. This kid is an unusual athlete, not just a punter. If the Browns need someone to step up big, they may call Gillan’s number on Sunday.