Australian Blake Muir hopes to reach NFL as next generation hint at bright future for American football

Baylor University offensive lineman Blake Muir is tipped to be the first Gridiron NSW product to be drafted by an NFL club and with more opportunities opening up for local players to learn the game officials are confident that the Sutherland Seahawks junior won’t be the last.

Muir, who will line up against Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl at the Dallas Cowboys’ 80,000 seat AT&T Stadium on January 2, received an honorable mention in the All-Big 12 conference team of the year awards announced last week after starting all 12 games for the Bears this season at left guard.

Australia Gridiron NSW

Australia’s Gridiron New South Wales (NSW)

The 23-year-old began playing for Sutherland Seahawks in the GNSW Colts and Seniors competition before gaining a scholarship at the University of Hawaii in 2011 and then last year moving to Texas last year, where he plays alongside brother Sean.

“My belief is that Blake Muir will go to the NFL, the same as Jesse Williams did,” Australian-based scout and NSW University coach Paul Manera said. “I project that Blake Muir will be a third-round draft pick and he would be the first NFL player to come through the Gridiron NSW system.”

Since completing an American football scholarship at the University of Hawaii in 1992, Manera has coached at various levels of the game and has helped place nine Australians at colleges in the United States.

He also established a youth competition for players aged between eight and 14 and is the Australian representative of the China Arena Football League, which is set to hold a Combine for interested players in Sydney on January 31.

“Blake and Sean Muir started playing with Sutherland Seahawks and they have proven that the sooner you get involved, the more you learn the game, the better the opportunities you will have and the higher probabilities there are of you earning a college scholarship or even going to the NFL,” Manera said.

Manera, who has also used his company Bring It On Sports to introduce the game in schools, said the standard was improving and his dream is to have a team of college players represent Australia in the World Cup, which will be held in Stockholm next July.

“We have got the Australian Future Stars program where we have high school kids from the USA come out and play high school kids from Australia, and those games are quite competitive now whereas those teams would come out in the early 1990s and beat our senior teams by 50 points,” he said.

“Now we are going neck-and-neck with them with kids their own age and I think that by getting the young kids interested it is really going to help the sport to grow.”

The CAFL Combine will also provide opportunities for Australian players from all backgrounds to learn the game, and they could earn up to $5000 a game if selected by one of the eight Chinese franchises in June’s inaugural draft.

Manera used the story of Super Bowl-winning quarterback Kurt Warner, who famously stacked supermarket shelves while playing Arena Football before being signed undrafted by the St Louis Rams in 1998, as an example of how the CAFL could help players to gain recognition by NFL scouts.

It is an opportunity for anyone who wants to play at a high level and it can also be a stepping stone into the NFL,” he said. “They are looking for players for their league.”

CAFL president David Niu said the Combine in Sydney was part of AFL Global’s strategy to grow professional Arena Football in Asia and the Pacific Rim and there had already been interest from players and coaches with backgrounds in NRL, AFL and rugby union.

“We are looking for guys with a desire to be a professional athlete,” Niu said. “We are not focused exclusively on football players, which is a big reason why we will host a Combine in Australia.”

Source: HERE

John McKeon is a former professional and collegiate American Football player and coach now living and working in New York. His goal is to spread news, information, and opinion on the global growth of the sport he loves.