Ten thousand miles from where the game was invented, in a place where football might refer to any number of sports but probably not American football, the punter is king.
This is not because of any mythical accomplishments, though to be sure, the punters who emerge from Australia are good. No, the position's popularity is by default.
In Australia, kids learn to kick, and when they've run out of more appealing uses for their foot, they turn to punting.
"We don't grow up throwing a baseball, shooting a hoop or trying to be the No. 1 quarterback," said Daniel Pasquariello, a native of Melbourne, Australia, and the starting punter at Penn State. "We grow up trying to be the best footy player we can, and that's kicking an oval shaped ball around all day and all night."
Footy, for those uninitiated, is Australian-rules football, a sport that's closer to soccer or rugby than American football. It's the sport most Australian kids hope to play when they grow up, and when the dream fades the fallback plan is punting.
It is, in many ways, the most un-American of entry points to American football.
Blame it on the time zones and the TV networks, really. Pasquariello knew a bit about the game from watching "Monday Night Football," only there it's Tuesday morning's action. If you're not up at 6 a.m., you probably missed it.
That's the case for the bulk of the players who come through Nathan Chapman's kicking school in Melbourne. Chapman, a former footy player who spent two preseasons with the Green Bay Packers, opened the camp eight years ago with an inaugural class of five. That number dipped to three the next year, as the program struggled to catch on with Australians who had didn't know a punter from a plumber.
"I'd say 90 percent of our guys who come down here have never touched an American football," Chapman said.
But that changes. The players with the strongest legs get access to a program that offers 18 months of intense training and education -- as physically demanding an existence as most punters could ever imagine. And when it's over, more than 90 percent will land a scholarship in the States.
This is where the roots of the game are taking hold Down Under, growing little by little with two short steps and a kick.
Pasquariello heard about Chapman's program, Pro Kick Australia, through a handful of friends. He bottomed out playing footy professionally, and he didn't see many other options. He had a strong leg, though, so he decided to give punting a go.
It was 110 degrees in Melbourne for Pasquariello's first day in camp. It was a Sunday morning, and the handful of American college football games shown on Australian TV had just wrapped up. The way Pasquariello remembers it, he turned in a lousy performance.
"But the coaches saw something in me," Pasquariello said. "And from there it was a pretty quick route to Penn State."
Quick, yes. Easy, no.
Most Australian-rules players are on club teams that practice once per week and play games on the weekend. Pro Kick is a full-time job. Many who try out aren't accepted to the program, and the ones who get a look go on to work six days a week, enduring daylong sessions that include significant weight training, stretching and theory courses on how the American game is played, along with extensive kicking sessions.
The goal, Chapman said, isn't to get his players ready for America. It's to make them better than anyone kicking on the East side of the Pacific Ocean.
"We realize that if we want to get a scholarship offer, we need to be better than a thousand kids in America each year," Chapman said. "We've got to have that X factor. That's the difficulty of 16,000 miles of water."
Those early years were tough on Chapman. He knew the American game, and he'd made a few inroads with coaches in the U.S. But getting one of them to take a chance on a kid from Australia, often sight unseen, was another story.
To get the attention of coaches stateside, Chapman had to take the one play most American fans skip so they can grab a snack from the fridge and turn it into something spectacular. The beauty of the job, however, was that his kids were capable of doing just that.
In Aussie rules, the kickers learn to boot it for hang time, learn to place the ball on a dime, learn to get kicks off quick and angle them just right. The talent and the leg strength are already in place when Chapman gets them. He just has to teach them everything else.
"Over here, college ball is boring," Chapman said of Australian football. "There's no crowd, no real fanfare. Sometimes they come in with the expectation that they'll just take a couple steps and kick it."
They learn to kick long and high, because that's what sells their game film in the U.S. They learn to kick consistently, because that's what keeps them atop a depth chart once they arrive. They learn to boot the ball all over the field, because versatility makes them valuable.
"We think on our feet," Pasquariello said, "and we punt with our feet."
Chapman is obsessed with nuance, and that means a lot of repetition. For the former footy players, there's 20 years of muscle memory to relearn, and when the pressure comes, it's easy to revert to old habits. But when they finally get it right, it's a thing of beauty.
Wake Forest punter Alex Kinal, an Adelaide, Australia, native, set the NCAA record for career punts last year.
Tom Hackett, from Melbourne, averaged 48 yards per punt for Utah last year, tops among all Power 5 punters. He went through the New York Jets' offseason training camp with seventh-round pick Lachlan Edwards, a native of Hastings, Australia.
This year, Pasquariello isn't even the only Aussie punting in the Big Ten. Cameron Johnston, from Geelong, is at Ohio State. LSU, Arkansas and Alabama have all had Australians on their rosters in recent years.
In all, 63 punters who have come through Chapman's program have played at an American university.
That's enough success that those early struggles to gain attention in the U.S. have largely evaporated. This summer, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh turned heads by scheduling a satellite camp at Pro Kick, though the NCAA quickly nixed the plan, much to Chapman's consternation. But the spotlight Harbaugh's plans put on the school was just the latest sign that American punting is gaining real -- ahem -- footing Down Under.
"They don't really grasp it," Pasquariello said of the locals, "but guys coming over and having success, [Australians] are starting to see college football is a really big deal."
Gotsis grew up playing Aussie rules football, too, and when he hit a wall, he looked to American football as an alternative. But at 6-foot-5 and 285 pounds, he wasn't exactly built like a punter.
"I was just a big kid," Gotsis said, "so they said I could play on the line."
Gotsis was part of a small community of players learning the American game in its entirety, but it was still remedial work. The club team he played with ran just one or two different plays, so when he got to the U.S., the game got far more complicated.
Still, Gotsis thrived. He got his first starting assignment as a true freshman at Georgia Tech, and by his senior season, he was All-ACC and was drafted in the second round by Denver.
But he's the exception to the rule.
"These Aussie players, they get approached to go into punting," Gotsis said. "They don't ever say, 'You could be a great receiver or defensive back.' Because they see them kick the ball, they get pushed into the bracket of being a punter."
Gotsis admits, however, that punting has been a nice gateway for the sport. And truth be told, it's kind of fun. Throughout his time at Georgia Tech, Gotsis would make a point of goofing off with the kickers, booting a few balls around for old times' sake.
And when Gotsis goes back home now, he sees more and more kids playing American football, and the club teams he started with are running a more complex style of play. It's hardly a new Australian pastime, but it's a start, something Chapman has helped build from the ground up. Those camps now have from 25-30 players enrolled at any given time.
Pasquariello got his start with a phone call in April 2014 from James Franklin, inviting him to Penn State's spring game. As it turned out, Pasquariello's father had business in Chicago the same week, so the two traveled together. A few months later, Pasquariello booked another trip.
"That one was a one-way flight," he said. "And I've loved it here ever since."
Before he arrived in Happy Valley, the biggest crowd Pasquariello ever played in front of might've been 400 people. This year, he'll sprint onto the field and get his leg loose as 110,000 fans dressed in blue and white wonder if it's a good time to get up to use the bathroom.
In Australia, he's a pioneer, exploring the ranks of college football at its highest levels. But here, he's still the punter.
But the journey here -- well, that's as thrilling as a booming 50-yarder with enough hang time to contemplate that great 10,000-mile divide and wonder if it's really so big after all.