It's easy to look at Virginia Tech's roster and notice the only punter listed is a true freshman who played Australian rules football and find reason for concern. But hey, you haven't seen left-footed Oscar Bradburn punt yet.
"Go out to one of our practices you see the kid bombing the ball," said kicker Joey Slye on Bradburn's body of work thus far in Blacksburg. "He's as consistent as can be which in the kicking game, that's what you need to be, you need to be consistent. That's where your morals lie. So, with him being as consistent as he is right now, I don't think it's gonna be a problem going into game time."
Bradburn is a product of Melbourne's Prokick Australia, (and he's with good company, including North Carolina's Tom Sheldon, a 2016 Freshman All-American). But of course, the 19-year-old Aussie has a lot left to learn.
"It's a completely different sport," said Bradburn. "'Aussie Rules' is played on much larger oval and different ball type, heavier ball. It's made out of kangaroo leather actually, so that's a very domestic thing. But yeah, it's a vastly different sport. It's gonna take, I mean, in the position that I play I think that I'll be able to adapt quite easily to what my role is in the team, but as far as the rules between sports go, yeah, it's vastly different."
In fact, Slye noted Bradburn's first live work was a bit of an eye-opening experience.
"Yeah, so the Tuesday practice we were sitting there and he got done with his first kinda like true punting session and he looked at me like kinda bright eyed and I was like, 'what's wrong?', and he was like, 'that's the first time I've punted with people running at me.' And it just kinda made me laugh because I'm like, 'what the heck are you talking about?', and then realizing like holy crap, he'd never really had a rush he'd never had anything like that."
However, Bradburn's biggest struggles this spring may be in his assimilation to the American culture and the vast differences in vernacular.
"Uh, little PG-13, but he [Bradburn] asked a girl in class for a 'rubber', and in Australia that's an eraser," said Slye. "And, uh, the girl kinda looked at him like 'what are you talking about?' So, uh, I mean it's just stuff you gotta get used to."
The Hokies would be well served if Bradburn is as quick to learn on the field as off it.
"Definitely not a rubber anymore," said Bradburn. "Raised a few eyebrows when I said that. She just gave me a weird look like 'where does he get off asking something like that?' And I was like sorry, my bad."
For Slye, the senior's offseason is about developing as a team leader and building confidence, especially when it comes to longer field goal attempts. Last season the strong-legged Slye, who Frank Beamer once entrusted to attempt a 67-yard kick, was just 1-7 on kicks of 40-plus yards.
"I'll go out there and I'll hit balls all day and I can make from anywhere on the field that I feel like I can," said Slye. "So, just kinda, the stars haven't been aligned in some of those cases. I know I can make it. There's never a doubt of when I run out there it's never like 'oh why is coach sending me out here for this situation?'. And he's also had the confidence in me to do things like that so it's just kinda like, it's just gonna happen, and once it does, I feel like the floodgates will open and you'll see a lot more of them. But yeah, it's just kinda like breaking the dam right now."
Special teams coach James Shibest agrees with Slye on his ability to hit long field goals.
"He knows I'm upset, that we should make 'em, be a little more consistent," said Shibest. "We just got to get confident in getting it done. He hadn't missed by much. He's got plenty of leg. To me it's a confidence issue that we've got to overcome."
Away from the field, Slye is making strides in his ongoing effort to spread awareness and raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Slye is currently nominated for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's "Man of the Year" Award. He is fundraising from now until May 20th with every dollar being donating counting as a vote towards the award.
I am asking YOU to help spread the word to HELP ME kick cancer in honor of my brother AJ! Please visit https://t.co/7yiIYnH4zA to learn more pic.twitter.com/kauKJj5DzL— Joey Slye (@Joey_Slye) March 27, 2017
"The opportunity to fundraise and honor my brother and continue the legacy that he left behind is huge for me to do," said Slye.