Logan’s Jordan Spasojevic-Moko has made a great start to his college football career in America with the elite football program of Texas A&M University.
Before the first match kicked off in September, he expected to have a quiet season while he played on a train-only basis, known as “redshirting”.
He then found himself running onto a field in front of 100,000 fans.
First year footballers are often “redshirted” to help them learn the game and adjust to student athlete life.
But Mr Spasojevic-Moko, 20, who grew up in Regents Park, proved he was ready for an early debut on September 4 as an offensive linesman, and went onto feature in three other matches this season.
“I was lucky because my coach was saying that he was expecting me to have 2 years before I would get on the field because I hadn’t got the footwork, but I dug in, worked on my technique, and put the skills to work,” he said.
His first time running through the tunnel and onto the field of Texas A&M’s home stadium of Kyle Field was an incredible memory.
Kyle Field is bigger than Suncorp Stadium and the MCG, boasting a seating capacity of 102,000.
“I ran out there, stood in the middle of the field, looked around, and I was like ‘holy… is this real?’” he said.
Of all things that could have been racing through his head, he was most worried about keeping upright and not fainting – a genuine concern for first timers in front of that atmosphere.
“Some people get really lightheaded because of 100,000 people screaming, as well as having the sound system booming in the background,” he said. “It is crazy.”
Texas A&M is in the town of College Station, Texas, wedged between Dallas, Houston, and Austin.
Mr Spasojevic-Moko is one of 98 players on the team’s roster.
His four-year scholarship, worth nearly $500,000, could set him up for a professional career in the NFL.
Texas A&M head coach Jim Fisher said his young charge did well in the August pre-season to get into the side.
“He has a tremendous work ethic and has worked his way into the rotation on the offensive line,” Mr Fisher said.
Life as a student athlete has been a steep learning curve. Early starts, long team meetings, three-hour practices, and classes are part of daily life. Weekends are reserved for games, which often involves a lot of travelling around the country.
“What I’m living right now is kind of like a professional sporting lifestyle, it’s even more than that,” Mr Spasojevic-Moko said.
“It’s like you live the dream for the first month or two, but then the grind sets in, the homesickness kicks in.
“Once you get to professional it’s kind of easier because you don’t have school and you’ve developed all the techniques.”
Mr Spasojevic-Moko was scouted for college football in March this year while playing for the Brisbane Rhinos.
“I was dabbling between rugby union and league and then I picked up on football, saw what it could offer me, and decided this was my dream to play ball for A&M,” he said.
Once the international borders reopen, he plans on returning home to see his family.