KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Over 9,000 miles separate Melbourne, Australia, and Knoxville, Tennessee. However, soon punter Jackson Ross can cross playing football in both cities off the list. The Australian native is set to replace Paxton Brooks at the position, and he feels he is ready for the job in year two on Rocky Top.
“I’m really confident now going into this season,” said Ross. “I think being here last season and just sort of taking a back seat was huge for me to learn about the game, and it’s been great transitioning into this season being the No. 1 punter and focusing this game on myself and being able to adapt to all that.”
According to his coach, Mike Ekeler, the transition process has gone smoothly for the former pro athlete because he lives up to that title every day.
“He’s got a pro mentality,” said Ekeler. “I mean and he was. You have to remember he was a pro in Australian rules football for three years, so he’s got that type of mentality and I absolutely love the guy. He works his tail off. The guy is a pro. What people don’t understand about Jackson Ross is when he was 15 years old, he was the number two tennis player in the whole country of Australia. I mean the guy is a phenomenal athlete.”
Ekeler reiterated that by saying he could be a starting wide receiver for the Vols. The special teams’ coordinator also added that he has the fourth-best arm on the team behind Joe Milton, Nico Iamaleava, and Head Coach Josh Huepel. However, Ross thinks he should be a little higher on the list.
“I think I’m better than Coach Huepel at his age now,” smiled Ross. “I’m still in my prime, I think. I probably don’t have the distance Joe does, but I’ll back myself with that.”