Sydney-born gridiron sensation Thomas Yassmin had a huge impact on American college football’s showpiece Rose Bowl game, with the code-converting 196cm scoring Utah’s first touchdown to cement his reputation as the one of the hottest talents in American football.
At the age of 17, Yassmin put aside his dream of making it into rugby league to chase fortune and glory in the NFL in 2018. In one of the greatest college football games in the year, the 22-year-old has reached a major milestone. towards the realization of his dream when he caught a pass in the corner of the end zone to land at the start of the 109th annual meeting.
Yassmin’s score kept Utah level for the first two quarters, but Penn State eventually ran away with the game to win 35-21. However, after a four-year odyssey in American football that puts him on the cusp of NFL stardom, Yassmin still emerged victorious.
The 113kg Sydneysider made a name for himself playing rugby union at private school Scots College and was being chased by NSW Waratahs and NRL Brisbane Broncos and Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles clubs when he was spotted by a University of Hawaii coach posting a lightning bolt. quick 4.49 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
Yassmin had never played gridiron when he joined the Utah Utes on a fully paid scholarship. ESPN’s Rose Bowl show enjoyed sharing a story of his early days on a college team where the school rugby and basketball star didn’t even know how to put on his pads for practice.
However Yassmin grew rapidly. With his quick hands, physical tenacity and speed, he became an important part of Utah’s offensive offense while slowly but surely honing key memorization skills from the NFL’s massive playbook and learning to block. In 2022, Yassmin finally became a mainstay on Utah’s offense, playing in 12 games, starting in five and catching 12 passes for 300 yards and five touchdowns.
“I knew it was going to be a long road,” Yassmin told the Utes fan site of his journey. “I’m not going to lie, I didn’t think it would take this long, but I think it makes it even more enjoyable, to finally have the opportunity and show what I can do.”
Yassmin got his big break this year when two players ahead of him on the tight ends depth chart suffered injuries, paving the way for the young Aussie to get some serious playing time. He didn’t disappoint, having a huge game against rivals Arizona State and climbing to fifth on the team for receiving yards with five touchdowns.
Yassmin follows fellow Australians Jordan Mailata and Daniel Faalele as former rugby stars who pursued a dream in a game they barely knew to now play as pros in the NFL. Utah quarterback Cam Rising praised Yassmin ahead of the deciding game with Penn State, known as “the grandfather of them all” in America.
“He’s as big as you want a tight end to be and he’s fast as a receiver,” Rising said of his teammate. “He does a great job just with that rugby experience. You want to get the ball in his hands as fast as possible so he can run and handle the rest.
The Utes even brought in Yassmin’s brother Patrick to support him, just the second time in four years they’ve been together, and a reward for his solo odyssey in America. “It was unreal,” he told KSL.com. “The guys on the team will tell you, there are definitely times when I’ve been through the wringer, and it’s been hard being away from home and my family…it’s very difficult emotionally and mentally, but saying it’s probably the greatest experience I’ve ever had.
Now Yassmin thinks beyond the school’s business and math department where he excels off the pitch. “It was more than just a gateway to a good education,” Yassmin told Fox Sports. “But the more I talk to coaches and other people who have done similar things to me…if I’m going to play college football, I might as well go all out and give the NFL a shot.”