Brett Thorson: The novel Australian story behind a ‘cheeky’ commitment day to UGA

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Check out the Brett Thorson story. You will want to read this one.

Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings. This entry chronicles how an Aussie punter named Brett Thorson found his way into another prized recruiting class at UGA in the 2022 cycle.  

Australia punter Brett Thorson committed to Georgia this week. When he did, it was like DawgNation took to flights of fancy. Kind of like a Brett Thorson boot.

Georgia finally joined the Australian punter game. That’s after years of watching other Power 5 programs tout the impressive imports to their kicking game. Thorson’s last name even inspired an early nickname from the fan base, too.

There was one fan who tweeted he’d call him “Thor” after the hero from the “Avengers” movies. It brought a smile to his face.

“With the comments and stuff, you really find out how big this is in America and how big of a thing it is to play for Georgia,” Thorson said.

His coaches regard him as “a physical specimen” who can run fast and also throw the ball very well.

“He’s a well-built athlete so ‘Thor’  would probably work for him,” his ProKick Australia coach Nathan Chapman said. “He’s got tremendous power and a pretty quick leg swing so it looks generally pretty easy for him. So he certainly does pack a punch when he kicks it. Thor might not be a bad one.”

Why look all the way to Australia to find a scholarship punter? That’s the first question here.

Thorson must have Thor’s hammer for a leg if he’s coming to America like many of his countrymen.

As it turns out, he does.

“People are really going to really quickly see that the ball blasts off his foot with a fair amount of speed,” Chapman said. “He’s got quite a long kick. We are going to continue to work on his hang time. To make sure we always want to match up the hang time with the distance. People are going to see the ball is going to pop off his foot pretty well. They are going to be excited by what they have over the next few years.”

His home in Melbourne is roughly 9,800 miles away from the UGA campus. The scouting report on Thorson’s leg is he might only punt the ball slightly shorter distances than that.

“Let’s just say it is not uncommon for him to hit a 65-yard plus ball,” Chapman said. “It pops off his foot well enough for him to casually kick a 60-yarder. Does that make sense? He’s not putting any of all of his effort to it to just scrape out that distance.”

Thorson said his kicks are measured from the line of scrimmage. The actual punt takes flight another 15 yards beyond those yardage totals. That said, this is not just about a guy who can kick it 65 yards.

There are a number of aspiring Australians who can do that.

“Sometimes the game is just to kick it 42 yards with a four-and-a-half second hang time and get that fair caught because that’s what you need,” Chapman said. “What you’ve probably got is a guy who has got a number of tools that you will be able to use really well to get the best result and play that field position game.”

Chapman said Thorson can kick the ball 45 yards with a 5.2 or 5.3-second hang in training. Those stats in games will generally drop to about 4.7 or 4.8 seconds.

“Just nice and comfortable for it and put it where he needs to with the height,” Chapman said.

They train at a higher level in his program. The Aussie standard is not dropping it inside the 20 but within the 8-yard line. His story has a lot to do with smashing all previously expected thresholds for a punter.

Brett Thorson: Getting to know the next scholarship Bulldog

The last time Georgia accepted a commitment from a player who resides 15 hours ahead of local time in Athens was back in well, never. The only parallel is when pass rusher Richard Tardits came from France to be “The Biarritz Blitz” during the 1980s.

That is believed to be the only other known international scholarship player in modern times at UGA.

The dialogue that powers this story is uncommon for any future Bulldog. His coach told DawgNation it was a “pretty cheeky” day in Australia when Thorson made his commitment official.

There was a torrent of more beautiful Australian language like “G’Day” and “mate” and “blokes” in that discussion.

Thorson, who’s already 21, said there’s maybe one stadium in his country that rivals the capacity of the ones he will play in weekly as part of the Southeastern Conference.

But he called it a “ground” with that. It was not a “field” or a “stadium” to him.

When Thorson says the name of his new team, that is different. “Jor-jah” is the way it sounds off his tongue. That’s the first of so many things about a story that feels like an undiscovered country.

  • He didn’t even know how to punt in the traditional American style until less than a year ago. His training really started in late May or early June of 2020. 
  • Georgia assistant coach Todd Hartley was a major factor. Hartley’s connection to the recruiting of Miami punter Lou Hedley was an initial “icebreaker” for both sides. 
  • Hedley was a Ray Guy Award finalist after averaging 47.3 yards per punt in 2020. Champman does expect Thorson to be a similar-level talent coming into the American game. 
  • Recruiting a punter from Australia is radically different than in America. 
  • There is a pipeline to the U.S. from a training group known as ProKick Australia. One of its principal coaches said 170 graduates of their program have gone on to play college football in America. That program is only about 15 years old.
  • Chapman estimated there were approximately 60 (!!) ProKick graduates in NCAA Division I football last fall. The number will rise to 75 to 85 for the 2021 season. 
  • Thorson has been committed to UGA for about two weeks. His family was still waiting this week on a parcel to arrive from America with their first Georgia Bulldog gear.

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