It has been a long journey from Sydney’s suburbs, so David Yankey didn’t mind waiting an extra day to receive a call from the Minnesota Vikings.
The 198cm tall, 143kg offensive guard achieved a dream on Saturday when the Vikings selected him in the fifth round of the NFL Draft.
Yankey, 22, was a two-time All-American selection during his dominant four-year stint with Stanford University and was tipped to be picked late in the first round, or maybe in the second or third rounds, but he drifted to 145th overall pick.
“Could not be more excited to be with an organisation like the Vikings! Truly blessed!” Yankey wrote in a tweet.
Three other Australians, all punters, who went through the US college system and were hopeful of being drafted were left on the shelf after the seventh and final round.
The top prospect was Geelong’s Tom Hornsey, who starred for the University of Memphis and was named the best college punter in 2013.
Hornsey, Essendon-raised Jordan Berry, from Eastern Kentucky University, and Sydney’s Cayle Chapman-Brown, who punted for New Mexico University, will all be hoping to be picked up as free agents.
“Things didn’t go my way but I’m still determined to play in the NFL,” Hornsey tweeted.
Yankey’s draft experience mirrored Queenslander Jesse Williams at last year’s draft, with some analysts predicting Williams could be a late first round pick, but he slid to the fifth round where the Seattle Seahawks eventually took him.
Yankey remains an Australian citizen despite living most of his life in the US.
As an eight-year-old he moved from Australia to Roswell, Georgia, with his parents David and Darina and two brothers
“I moved when I was only 8,” he told ESPN.
“So I didn’t really get an Australian accent.
“But I didn’t get a southern accent, either. Missed out on both cool accents.”
Hornsey, Berry and Chapman-Brown will likely follow the path of Aussie punter Brad Wing, who was snubbed at the 2013 draft but was snapped up by the Philadelphia Eagles as a free agent immediately after the close of the draft. Wing now plays with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Only one punter was selected in this year’s draft – University of Miami Hurricanes’ Pat O’Donnell who went to the Chicago Bears in the sixth round.