Maximilian Pircher: The rapid rise of Italy’s next great lineman

Two years ago, 19 year old Italian, Maximilian Pircher showed up to try out for Austrian powerhouse, the Swarco Raiders. The 6’7″, 300 pounder had a European handball background and had never played football before. Two years later he has been picked for the NFL International Player Pathway Program.

Talk about fast tracking.

There’s no question that Pircher’s size and athleticism have been key factors and give him a extremely high ceiling as a offensive lineman. But starting from scratch, Pircher and his coaches knew they had work to do.  In only his first year of playing football, Pircher helped the Swarco Raiders win the Austrian Football League championship. The young native of Bressanone, Italy in the Italian alps credits Swarco offensive line coach Lee Rowland for his quick development in his first year of American football.

“I went there to the rookie camps they are making every year to give everybody the possibility to play football at least in the second team. Lee Rowland came to me already after the second practice we had at the camp and gave me the possibility to workout with him.  He worked out with me every day and explained me the game”

His performance in Innsbruck had not gone unnoticed in his home country. At the end of the Austrian season, Pircher got a call from Davide Giuliano the head coach of the Italian national team. Team Italy had two crucial games coming up later that year. The young protege was a part of the Italian team that pulled off a historic upset of team Austria, and beat Switzerland to help Italy reach the European semifinal round.

“After the successful season with the Raiders, the Italian head coach Davide Giuliano called me and asked me if I would be ready to play at the European championship.”

Maximilian Pircher rose rapidly as a member of Austrian powerhouse, the Swarco Raiders Photo: Brunnbauer photo

Then in the fall of 2019, events took another sudden turn as Swarco head coach Shuan Fatah and Rowland made the move to the Hildesheim Invaders in the German Football League and asked Pircher to join them. Needless to say, he jumped at the chance.

“I was very happy when Shuan Fatah and Lee Rowland gave me a contract at the Hildesheim Invaders, that was very important for me because so I could continue to work out every day with coach Rowland.”

Then, while training for the upcoming season in Germany, Pircher was contacted by James Cook of the NFL International Player Pathway Program. After working out for scouts and waiting to find out his future, Pircher was elated to hear of his selection.

“In October I went to the combine in Schwäbisch Hall. After the combine we had to wait for the result. The NFL always stayed in contact with me and the whole process was very professional and well organized. I was very happy when I got the call that I will be part of the program.”

The 21-year-old has a ton of potential and not much experience. His rise from a try out in Austria to training with the pros in Florida has been dazzling. But Pircher is ready for the next chapter is his accelerating career.

“My goals for the future are to take as much as I can from the coaches in IMG, become the best football player I can be and obviously make it to the NFL.”



Alex is a former NCAA and semi-pro American football player who is now located in London, where he works in digital marketing. His goal in writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and