Jets hot for Aussie rugby star

April, 2, 2012
4/02/12
6:39
PM ET
UPDATE: Former University of Minnesota coach Tim Brewster, Hayden Smith's personal coach, tweeted on Saturday that Smith has signed with the Jets. The Jets have yet to confirm the signing.


The Jets are showing serious interest in Australian rugby star Hayden Smith, a 6-foot-7, 240-pound former basketball player who projects as a tight end in the NFL. (His weight also has been reported as 260 pounds.)

Smith has visited a number of NFL teams, including the Jets, who hosted him in early February. Smith is close to signing with the Jets, according to The Daily Telegaph in Australia.

We reported the Jets' interest in Smith in early February. He was born in Australia, played college basketball at Metropolitan State in Denver, took up rugby and made the U.S. national team. From there, he played professional rugby on a premier team in England.

This wouldn't be the Jets' first Aussie signing. From 2005 to 2007, their punter was Ben Graham, a former Australian Rules Football star. But as we mentioned, Smith isn't a punter; he's supposed to be a terrific athlete. He reportedly ran the 40 in 4.7 seconds.

Former University of Minnesota coach Tim Brewster, who has mentored Smith on his quest to become a tight end, told the Daily Telegraph: "A lot of coaches shy away from guys who haven't played the game because it is an exhausting process. To me, that's the exciting part. Taking a piece of clay like that. And I am going to tell you Hayden Smith is one beautiful piece of clay. Just mold him into what you want him to be."

Never a dull moment with the Jets. Imagine Tim Tebow throwing to a former rugby star.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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