What do Australian born professional rugby star Hayden Smith and the New York Jets possibly have in common?
ESPN New York’s, Rick Cimini reports that on Saturday, Oct. 27, Smith, a 27-year-old tight end who signed with the Jets on April 9, joined the 53-man roster after the contract termination of veteran wide receiver Jason Hill. Smith, who stands at 6-foot-7, 240-pounds, played rugby professional in England before deciding to give American football a try in the offseason thanks to the coaching and teaching of former University of Minnesota coach Tim Brewster.
“A lot of coaches shy away from guys who haven’t played the game because it is an exhausting process. To me, that’s the exciting party,” Brewster told the Daily Telegraph back in April as he compared Smith to a piece of unmolded clay. “Taking a piece of clay like that. And I am going to tell you, Hayden Smith is one beautiful piece of clay. Just mold him into what you want him to be.”
Smith’s three-year deal included a $112,000 guarantee comprised of a $10,000 signing bonus, $4,000 reporting bonus and $98,000 base salary guarantee, according to an article posted by Shutdown Corner on Yahoo!
All of the above terms were due regardless of whether or not Smith made Gang Green’s roster coming out of training camp, where he had one pass thrown his way during the preseason. Active since last Sunday’s loss against the Miami Dolphins, Smith will earn $22,941 per week as long as he remains on the 53-man roster.
Currently the Jets' situation at tight end is fairly open, according to ESPN. Dustin Keller is the starter, while Matthew Mulligan the backup was lost to free agency. The remaining two tight ends have little experience, Josh Baker and Jeff Cumberland, who recently had Achilles tendon surgery.
Other Aussies who have played in the NFL include punters Sav Rocca (Washington), Ben Graham (Detroit), Matt McBriar (Dallas), Darren Bennett (San Diego), Colin Ridgway (Dallas) and Defensive End Colin Scotts (Arizona).