Adam Gotsis, who has played four more years of Australian Rules Football than American football, was drafted 63rd overall in the 2016 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos and was the last pick of the second round.
The Broncos drafted Gotsis just over two months after the Arizona Cardinals signed former Australian rules player Joel Wilkinson as a cornerback. But Wilkinson just took up the game after playing in the AFL professionally. Gotsis has been working at the American game for eight years.
Gotsis was not alone though. Another Australian, punter Cameron Edwards was picked by the New York Jets as the last pick of the draft. In fact, several Australians have found their way into the NFL.
A four-year letterman at Georgia Tech with 37 starts, the 6-foot-4½-inch, 287-pound defensive lineman started his football career in Australia after discovering the game playing Madden football. Then he got hooked after watching the 2006 Rose Bowl between Texas and Southern California.
The 23 year old Gotsis has now played the game for about seven years, including four years at Georgia Tech. Although he was weaned on Australian Rules football, his potential at the American game was evident early on. And his rapid development was not as surprising as many would think.
“I’m still on my rise,” Gotsis said. “And I think my ceiling is endless.”
Paul Manera, who played for the University of Hawaii and who now works with Gridiron Australia, coached Gotsis in Australia and knew he had something special in him:
“His mum found a brochure to play Gridiron for his local club the, Monash Warriors. So then I got him involved in the Down Under Bowl where I got to coach him.
I recommended him to the IFAF World Under 19’s Development Team for 2011 and he just missed out on making the final roster.
During that time he and his mum made a couple of trips up to Sydney and we timed him in the 40 and did some sessions together. Then on his 2nd trip up we made up a little video of him doing some offensive lineman footwork drills and we sent it to Georgia Tech.
Mike Sewak the offensive line coach at Georgia Tech was also one of my offensive line coaches at Hawaii. Mike looked at the video and also showed it to Paul Johnson, the head coach at GT.
Paul had helped me try out for Itawamba community college in Mississippi and then given me a scholarship to Hawaii. Coach Johnson and Sewak offered Adam a recruiting trip to Atlanta and they offered him a scholarship on his recruiting trip.
Adam committed to Georgia Tech and he has not looked back. Amazingly enough, Adam did not even get redshirted and was a 4 year letterman at Georgia Tech with 37 starts.
Adam also played for the Australian Outback in the 2011 IFAF World Championships in Austria and was nice enough to come to Ohio to hang out with the Outback players at the last world cup in Ohio. He is a great guy and deserves everything he has worked for.”
Gotsis moved to America when he was 19 years old and has not looked back. He will apply for a work visa once he signs a contract with the Broncos.
“Once I developed into a football player instead of just a raw athlete, I took my game to another level,” Gotsis said.
Gotsis is recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered on Oct. 31. He expects to be ready to hit the field by training camp.
The Broncos were pleased with the pick as defensive line coach Bill Kollar explained to reporters:
“Watching film on him, he is the type of player we like. He plays hard, runs to the ball, has some pass rush ability that we are happy about.”