By LARRY VAUGHT
Australian Max Duffy’s recruiting story is not one that will ever be easy to top.
He grew up in Australia playing basketball and soccer before switching to Australian Rules Football at age 15. He was working as a tree lopper — “I cut down trees with a bunch of friends I played football with” — while playing in the West Australian Football League before being picked in the 2012 Australian Football League draft.
However, shoulder and hamstring injuries limited his play in 2013 and 2014. When he was finally cut from the league, he signed with Prokick Australia, moved across the country from Perth to Melbourne to train, and eventually came to the United States after four months of training as a punter to try out for college teams.
He punted at Alabama, Auburn and Tennessee for coaches and scouts. He sat in Alabama coach Nick Saban’s office but didn’t get a scholarship offer. If he had, he might never have ended up with the All-American season he had at UK in 2019.
“Now I have an even greater appreciation of how neat that was (in Saban’s office). At the time, I did not really know that much about Alabama football. I was still just getting the hang of punting,” Duffy, 26, said.
“It ended up being nine months until I actually got my first offer after I started punting. It felt pretty natural but it took a bit of time to get used to the spiral (of the football) and wearing pads and a helmet that is really heavy. I also had to learn about the rush (from the defense) and what the rules were.”
Through his agreement with Prokick that mandated he take his first “suitable” offer, he became a Wildcat knowing very little about the program or city. Soon he became somewhat of a fan favorite because of his ability to flip field position and his unusual punting style. Duffy isn’t sure, though, why he’s been noticed so much by fans.
“I am just a punter. I don’t really do much,” Duffy said. “I guess maybe I just bring a different element from a different country. People laugh at what I say and the way I talk. But the support of the fans has been great. To acknowledge punting is important and to get a clap walking off the field is pretty cool.”