Merchiston Castle's Jamie is now a star kicker in the NFL
A budding sports star who switched to one of the Capital's leading boarding schools in a bid to become an international rugby player is blazing a trail in the world of American football.
Jamie Gillan, who grew up dreaming of playing for Scotland, moved from his Inverness home to board at Merchiston Castle to fulfil his dream of playing for Scotland.
But he switched sports and yesterday took to the field for the Cleveland Browns in their first game of the new National Football League (NFL) season.
The 22-year-old, nicknamed the Scottish Hammer on account of his powerful left leg, has edged out Britton Colquitt, a Super Bowl-winning veteran, to take his place in the Ohio team.
Gillan said the journey he had been on so far was “unreal”, but he was ready to knuckle down and help his new teammates to victory.
In he 2013 relocated to the US after his father, an officer in the RAF, was posted to Patuxent River in Maryland.
Gillan first played for his high school before signing for University of Arkansas side Golden Lions, who took him on as a punter, responsible for kicking the point.
Their faith was not misplaced. Gillan went from success to success, impressing with his punts and field goals, secured thanks to a kicking style that owes more to Jonny Wilkinson than it does NFL legends such as Ray Guy or Shane Lechler.
Gillan, however, is modest about his technique’s impact. “It’s a lot different to the eye of an American punt coach and it’s changed a little bit to achieve different goals,” he explains. “But the crowd just want to see great punts.”
As he prepared to his debut for the Browns before 67,000 fans and millions more watching on television as they take on the Tennessee Titans, Gillan said: “It means a lot to me and my family to make the squad. The journey up until last weekend was unreal, but it’s time to put that behind me and be ready for this season.”
“The atmosphere should be bumpin’,” he said. “It should be pretty fun.”