Athlete Profile: Aussie recruit brings new skill to Eastern

Summers are much different in Australia than they are in Michigan. A hot day in Australia can reach up to 110 degrees while in Michigan it could go into 90s. Australia is surrounded by the ocean, and Michigan is nearly surrounded by lakes. Even football is different in the land down under.

In Australian football, the objective of the game is similar to the American brand, but most of the rules vary from what fans know in the U.S.

To advance the ball in Australian football, you have to punt and catch the ball, and to score you must punt the ball past the goal. In American football, you can run, pass and catch to advance the ball. There is also punting and place-kicking, plus kickoffs.
Sophmore punter Jay Karutz, a former punter in Australian football, is a part of the Eastern Michigan University football recruiting class of 2010.

“I love it,” Karutz said of his first season playing American football. “A new sport is good.”

In Australian football the field is oval-shaped and is bigger in width and length than an American football field. The tempo of the game is different as well.

Karutz has been in Michigan since May working on adjusting to the new game.

He said, “The transition was not too bad. It’s a different kind of punting; a lot less running.”

Karutz was recruited by Tom Barpe, EMU’s special-teams coach. Karutz attended the Under Armor Kohl’s Kicking Camp, where he finished as the 15th-best punter in the U.S. out of 300. This is where Karutz was first spotted as a talent for EMU.

Karutz attended high school at Holy Cross College, where he received the Archbishop of Sydney Award for student excellence awarding those who excelled academically as well as in the sports. He also received American equivalences to achieving all-state and all-conference in Australian football.

EMU’s season has been frustrating. The Eagles are 1-7 and 1-3 in Mid-American Conference going into Saturday’s 4 p.m. game against visiting Toledo. Karutz has done all the punting and is optimistic of the direction the program is headed.

“We want to win,” said Karutz, who has punted 43 times for an average of 40.4 yards. “This year we are still in development. Next year is when we will get some serious wins.”

For the rest of the season, Karutz thinks everyone needs to keep buying into the program.

“I have been having a great time here,” Karutz said. “I’ve made some great friends.They (EMU) gave me the opportunity to train at a high level while attending school. There is no Australian collegiate athletics. In essence this was a dream come true. Playing football and seeing how far my body could go is why I basically decided on coming here to EMU.”

Karutz said moving to the states is a big change.

“Everything is industrialized,” he said. “Everything is big, and a wide-open planning. In Australia, that’s the way the outer rim is, but in the center it’s more populated.”

Karutz said he misses the beach, sunshine and his family, which came to EMU to see Karutz play earlier in the season.
“This is a big change,” Karutz said. “But change is good.”

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