By Steve Mims

The (Eugene) Register-Guard

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When: 4:30 p.m. Aug. 31

TV: ABC

EUGENE — Tom Snee gave up footy for football.

The Oregon sophomore is the latest in a long line of punters in college and pro football imported from Australia. Snee was one of seven punters in the Pac-12 last year out of Prokick Australia, a training center for kickers and punters that has sent Michael Dickson (Seattle), Jordan Berry (Pittsburgh) and Cameron Johnston (Philadelphia) into the NFL.

“When I looked at all that, I thought, ‘Why not put my eggs in that basket?’” Snee said.

Snee competed in swimming, soccer, basketball and cricket as a youth. He played Australian rules football for about 10 years before taking up the American game following his sophomore year at Frankston High School.

“Footy is based around kicking, that’s how you pass and move the ball around,” said Snee, using the nickname for Australian rules football. “Australians in general develop a good hand-eye coordination through sports like footy, rugby and soccer. It took some time, but after about a year or so I was pretty confident in my punting ability.”

Coaches Nathan Chapman and John Smith founded Prokick in 2007 and have sent nearly 100 players into college football, including Mitch Wishnowsky, who was Utah’s all-Pac-12 punter last year.

“Nathan and John approached me one day to say that Oregon was interested,” Snee recalled.

Snee talked with UO special-teams coach Bobby Williams on FaceTime and the two kept in touch through text messages.

“After about a month, I had a visit and when I came out and saw the facilities and the other coaches, it went from there,” Snee recalled. “It happened pretty fast, to be honest.”

The first college football game that Snee remembers watching was Oregon’s 59-20 win over Florida State in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 2015.

“I always followed sports and watched the NFL growing up so through that I got into college football,” he said.

Snee committed to the Ducks last year in late June and was on campus for preseason camp to learn the intricacies of football. He averaged 35.2 yards on 22 punts as a true freshman, splitting duties with Blake Maimone.

“A lot of times, even in practice, I’d kick in a certain situation and come off the field thinking, ‘That’s the first time I’ve heard of that,’” he said. “There were definitely a few things I didn’t think about coming into this that I learned through situations and being in that environment. Last year, there was a lot to take in during a short amount of time, so having that year behind me to look back on and the experiences in different situations, I feel more comfortable.”

Snee is once again in a competition with Maimone to be ­Oregon’s punter.

“One thing about the Australians, they have to learn the American game,” Williams said. “Last year was a little bit of a shock to Tom, coming over here and playing in this arena. He’s gotten more comfortable and understands the game a lot better. He’s got a lot more confidence in handling the rush a lot better. He is speeding up his operation, all those things you like to see in a punter. He is performing a lot better.”

Snee has made both cultural and football adjustments during 14 months in Eugene.

“Looking back, last year was a mixture of frustrations and a few times I was happy with myself,” Snee said. “Obviously coming halfway around the world at age 18, it was a big adjustment. It took a while to get used to that and I struggled with it a bit during the season. There is a lot of room for me to improve so I am working hard to give this second year a hot crack.”

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