Georgia’s Aussie punter has thrived amid ‘unreal experience’

LOS ANGELES — There mightn’t have been a Georgia Bulldog more wide-eyed than Brett Thorson on Saturday.

Situated at a table in the middle of an expansive exhibition hall inside the Los Angeles Convention Center, Thorson was somewhat inconspicuous amid his star-studded teammates being interviewed during Media Day for the College Football Playoff championship. But as Georgia prepares to face TCU on Monday night, Thorson is as important to a successful outcome as any of them.

He’s their punter, and he’s been a good one, especially considering it’s his first season of football.


Thorson, 22, is from Victoria, Australia. He’s among a growing set of Australian Rules Football converts coming to the U.S. to have a go at the American game.

“The experience, yeah, has been unreal,” said Thorson, in his thick Aussie accent. “It’s kind of, like, still a really big learning curve in a way. I feel like I’m still learning a lot in the moment. I’m still nowhere near the top. But this, as far as college football goes, you can’t get an experience that’s better.”

It has gone well. Thorson arrives here having averaged 44.9 yards on 35 punts. That’s just 2.5 per game. So, he spends a lot of time standing on the sideline waiting for his opportunities.

He understands that’s a good thing, but not everybody back home does.

“That’s the funny thing, every punt matters even if it is only limited opportunities,” Thorson said. “Personally, I know I have to make the most of each one because I know I don’t get many opportunities.”

Trying to explain the game to his “mates” back home can be difficult. Most of them really don’t understand. They don’t realize that Thorson is playing a crucial role for one of the most iconic and successful college football programs in the country, nor all the fuss that surrounds this game.

That’s why it has been so great whenever he can get them to the States to watch. His parents, Andrea and Jack Thorson, saw their first game when Georgia played Auburn on Oct. 8 in Athens at Sanford Stadium. Thorson had a season-high five punts in that game.

He had three friends from back home in attendance at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta last week. His parents and a friend will be at Monday night’s title game at SoFi Stadium.

“They don’t understand the full scale of what college football is,” Thorson said. “Mom and Dad said it as well. ‘You’ve got to be here to see it, to understand how big it truly is and how great Georgia fans truly are.’”

As for memorable moments, Thorson counts the Oregon game as No 1.

“That was my most stressful ballgame ever, my first punt ever. That was pretty special,” he said. “I had one punt in the last quarter, so that was the most memorable personally, but having Mom and Dad there for their first game was pretty special, too.”

Thorson did not mention his 75-yard punt that rolled out of bounds at the 1-yard line against Tennessee, but that was certainly a season highlight for the Bulldogs.

Monday will be Thorson’s biggest assignment yet. Georgia will count on him to come through on the grandest stage. Field position and punt coverage are never more important than in a game with championship implications.

“I still have a long ways to go punting-wise and learning-wise because I’m still learning the game,” Thorson said. “I’m still learning about my punting and how I can help the team in the best way possible. But at this stage it’s been a dream come true.”