Australian-born Kirk Christodoulou is entering his final season as punter for the Pitt Panthers.
Thursday evening, Pitt found a replacement next season for Christodoulou and it just so happens he’s also from Australia.
Sam Vander Haar, from Prokick Australia in Melbourne, received a full scholarship offer from Pitt and didn’t take any time in accepting their offer.
Vander Haar becomes the fourth member of Pitt’s Class of 2022, joining three-star defensive tackle Sean FitzSimmons, three-star defensive tackle Elijah Statham and three-star defensive back Aveon Grose.
Pittsburgh Sports Now tracked down Vander Haar in his hometown of Melbourne, Australia on Thursday night, but, for him, it was Friday morning at 11 a.m. The conversation started with him talking about the relationship with Pitt started and advanced to the point where they extended him an offer.
“Obviously, there was a relationship and comfort level with the current punter at Pitt, since we came through the same program,” Vander Haar told PSN. “I joined that program in July of last year and trained there six or seven months before having a contact with Pittsburgh.
“My coach told me that there was a potential opportunity available at Pittsburgh and I sent my film up for them to view and we started to engage from there and we’ve been speaking since then. Everyone at Pittsburgh has been awesome to speak with, have been very great to me and I’m found them to be very open. I put my best foot forward and received the offer to join them.
“To be honest, when I originally sent my film to Pitt, I didn’t want to expect too much. I just wanted to send them the best film of me as possible and whatever happens, happens. I realized earning a scholarship is hard and just the tape with the hopes that something eventually would happen. If it didn’t, I would keep working and trying. I really didn’t have any expectations or preconceived idea of what would happen but when it came, I was obviously super thrilled and couldn’t be happier.”
Vander Haar explained how recruiting different in Australia compared to the United States. When he sent his tape to Pitt, that was the only school in the states that received it. Unlike in this country, recruits can send their tape to different schools to try and get as much interest in them as possible, that’s not what they do in Australia. Athletes there choose one school they want to try and attend and don’t talk with or entertain offers from any other place until a decision is made by that program.
“Getting the offer and now joining the Pitt football program means everything to me,” said Vander Haar. “This is obviously a very big deal to me and it’s just been overwhelming with the support and well wishes I’ve received since the announcement. I also understand that this is just the beginning and I can’t have the mindset that everything is ok and I can just relax, I now that I have to work harder and really make all the people that believed in me happy and proud, the people at Pitt included.
“I’ve been in contact with Kirk (Christodoulou) and he’s been great with helping me out and helping me understand the game a bit more, along with different kinds of punts that Pitt implements. He’s been an awesome sounding board for me and I’m really excited to continue the pathway and continue in his footsteps.”
Vander Haar says he’s begun the process of learning about Pitt and the city of Pittsburgh by watching a lot of videos. Aside from Christodoulou, he has another pretty good resource and that’s his fiance, Hallie, who attended and graduated from Duquesne University.