Mitch Wishnowsky isn’t sick of the comparisons to Tom Hackett…yet.
“I knew it was coming. I knew what I was getting myself into when I was coming to Utah. My coaches back home were like ‘You’re going to hear about the Hackett stuff the whole time you’re there.'”
The fellow Australian spoke to the media on Monday ahead of Friday’s game against USC, owner of the nation’s best net average for punting this season. Wishnowsky says he and Hackett have more in common than both being punters from Australia.
“On the field we sort of punt very similar, we’ve got the same background when it comes to sports. Off the field, we’re pretty similar…Tommy wasn’t shy about saying how lazy he was, and outside of football I don’t shy away from a game of FIFA or something like that. I think we’re both pretty laid back fellows.”
As for punting, it’s just second nature to Wishnowsky or anyone else who grows up playing Australian rules football or rugby.
“We don’t play American football back home. It’s Aussie rules, so everyone on the field has to be able to punt. No one grows throwing a football, but everyone grows up kicking a football back and forth to their dad.”
Hackett had a small taste of punting at the NFL level, going through pre-season with the New York Jets. Wishnowsky says if it happens, so be it, but don’t think it was his childhood dream.
“You don’t grow up thinking you want to be a punter in the NFL, a lot of us just fall into it, what with a big leg. It just comes down to doing it since you were 5 or 6, with that muscle memory and stuff.”
Still, a major reason for Utah’s success recently has been due to the reliability of Tom Hackett and the punting game, switching the field on an opponent by an average of nearly fifty yards.
So far, Wishnowsky has picked up right where Hackett left off.