The recruiting process for those coming out of ProKick Australia is much, much different than high school kids in the United States.
Once a potential college recruit picks a college to hone in on, that’s the one. And if that recruit is fortunate enough to earn a scholarship offer to their selected school, it’s an immediate acceptance.
So, when Sam Vander Haar received his offer from Pitt, he accepted and couldn’t wait to make the long trip back to the United State to play college football.
“Through my program back home, ProKick Australia, which obviously you guys will probably be familiar with from (former Pitt punter) Kirk (Christodoulou), I started there about two years ago and just obviously began the process of learning how to punt American style. … Pitt reached out, so I went from there,” Vander Haar said at Pitt’s South Side facility Wednesday.
Now that Vander Haar has made it to Pitt, he’s very happy to be in Pittsburgh. While he said he didn’t have high expectations, he said Pittsburgh is an amazing place. And he’s just happy to have added opportunity to work on his craft as opposed to the restrictions in place in Australia currently.
“I love it here,” Vander Haar said. “Especially coming from the situation that we’ve all been in but particularly back home, it’s a stark contrast.”
Christodoulou, Pitt’s starting punter over the past four seasons, has been a big factor in helping Vander Haar make the jump from Australia to Pitt.
“I spoke to Kirk a lot actually, he’s been a really good sounding board for me through the whole process and even now,” Vander Haar said. “He just told me that if you want to take your game to the next level and get a really good degree, this would be the place to come to.
“Yeah, I bug (Christodoulou) a lot,” Vander Haar said. “We’ve been hanging out a lot, he’s been really good, just even learning little things.”
With Vander Haar working toward earning full-time punting duties, he’s also been focused on earning place holding duties too. While it’s some of his first time receiving live snaps from a long snapper, he hopes to earn those duties entering the 2022 season.
Vander Haar has played Australian rules football since he was five, a kicking or punting-based sport, so he prides himself on his physical abilities, but he hopes to not have to flash his tackling abilities often during actual games.
“I don’t want to have to lay a tackle because that means I’m not doing my job properly, but I would love to get involved at some point,” Vander Haar said.
With punting, place-holding and tackling in the works, Vander Haar’s potential as an all-purpose special teams weapon is in the works, but to this point, fake punts through the air might not be Pitt’s best bet.
“Coach Powell (special teams coordinator) did ask me if I could throw, and I was pretty brutally honest and said, ‘Not really.’ But even being around and watching Kedon, Nick and most of the boys throw, it’s weird how much you pick up when you actually watch it in person.”
Vander Haar doesn’t want to be lacking in any area while at Pitt, so he’ll be working at punting, place-holding, tackling and passing over the course of spring ball in order to provide Pitt with the best chance to win.