Jamie Gillan: My rookie year with the Cleveland Browns
"I always pictured myself playing pro rugby and staying in Scotland and now I'm stateside and it's just crazy."
By Cameron Hogwood - @ch_skysports
Last Updated: 07/02/20 8:10am
"Nope," replies Jamie Gillan with zero hesitation when asked if he envisions taking on kicking duties in the future.
That job currently belongs to the "fantastic" Austin Seibert, with whom Gillan jokes "I probably spend too much time with".
Punting remains the unrivalled priority for 'The Scottish Hammer' who has just enjoyed a successful and unforeseen rookie year in the NFL having spent most of his life hoping to enter a rugby field. This year saw him part of the Cleveland Browns.
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Gillan, born in Inverness and relocated to Maryland with his family in 2014, signed for the Browns as an undrafted free agent last offseason before beating veteran Britton Colquitt to the starting punting job.
This was the reward for both his development at Arkansas-Pine Bluff and an impressive pre-season training camp in which he caught the eye with a 74-yard punt against the Indianapolis Colts.
Reflecting on his 2019 campaign, Gillan told Sky Sports: "I think it went good, I'm glad I got through it for a start. It was good fun, I'm always having fun.
"I've just got to keep getting more consistent, that's the aim of the game for specialists.
"It was really cool that we got to get some punts inside 20, and the gunners did a great job of downing the ball inside the 10 as well.
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"I always pictured myself playing pro rugby and staying in Scotland and now I'm stateside and it's just crazy. I never would have thought it, but it took a weird turn."
The 22-year-old became the first Browns punter to win AFC Special Teams Player of the Week since 2013 as he registered six punts for 231 yards and landed five inside the 20-yard line against the New York Jets in Week Two.
Gillan finished the season with 28 punts inside the 20-yard line (tied 13th in the NFL), with the Tennessee Titans' Brett Kern leading the way on 37.
He produced a season-high 71-yard punt (tied-fourth longest) against the San Francisco 49ers in Week Five, while the Browns' special teams unit saw his boots returned for a total of just 151 yards across the year.
The Highlander's efforts earned him a place in the PFWA All-Rookie Team alongside Browns teammate Seibert, who was a fifth-round pick out of Oklahoma.
"It was cool, especially because I didn't get drafted either," explained Gillan.
"There were a couple of other drafted punters which was nice but I couldn't have done it without such an awesome punt team.
"Punter is always going to be important because it's field position and field position is one of the most important parts of the game. Brett Kern does a fantastic job of flipping fields so that's what I'm trying to do."
With regards to personal takeaways, he continued: "Staying focused and staying in my lane, not letting outside sources dictate how you punt. Whatever the score of the game is I've still got to go out there and do my job and do it well."
A busy summer of recruitment for Cleveland didn't amount to immediate results as a young team finished the year 6-10, with the Browns seeing out 2019 as the only side without a winning record over the decade.
Head coach Freddie Kitchens was fired after one year in charge, leading to Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski being named as his successor.
"It was up and down," admitted Gillan. "We probably could have done better a couple of times but it's a young team. We haven't been together very long and we can only get better.
"He (Kitchens) was a really, really awesome guy and I really liked him but it's a business and things happen.
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"I'm always excited, I get to play football," Gillan said of Stefanki's arrival. "That's what life is about, if you can't enjoy things like that I don't know what you can enjoy."
Gillan finds himself part of a youthful locker room, but one full of big characters. This includes quarterback Baker Mayfield and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who struggled to strike up the formidable on-field understanding the Browns had perhaps anticipated upon the latter's arrival from the New York Giants.
So, what's it like to work with two of the Browns' most high-profile stars?
"He (Mayfield) is a great guy, really really down to earth, a great guy and loves football," said Gillan. "He (Beckham) is a fantastic guy."
"It's great, I get along with everyone. They're good people, highly focused and professional."
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Gillan may only be entering his second year, but he is already under no illusions when it comes to the ruthless nature of the league.
With that in mind, he cited an unwavering commitment as key advice for the UK's NFL Academy students pursuing a future in the NFL.
"Work really really hard, it takes a lot of time, effort and patience and skipping out on a lot of fun to go training, to even get your shot," he stressed.
"Training is fun for me, it's my pride and joy. Even when you make it you don't make it and you could get cut at any time."
Having earned his break, Gillan knows the task ahead is continuing to progress.