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Utah Utes football: Coming to America, Ute Punter Sean Sellwood made a sacrifice

By Connor Malmberg

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 6 2012 4:07 p.m. MST

Sellwood also said football games seemed to last a long time at first.

“Football took like three hours a game," he said. "Rugby is a short game, just under an hour and a half. Football has a lot of stops and starts, so that took a lot of getting used to; and then there were all of these pads and a helmet to wear. I was wondering what was going on, but it soon grew on me.”

Over the next two years, Sellwood developed into one of the best kickers in the state. He earned all-state honorable mention recognition as a senior and led the region with an average of 42.8 yards per punt.

Sellwood also participated in a couple of sports he was more familiar with, soccer and track & field, earning all-state accolades in both. His second-place finish in the shot put and his third-place performance in the high jump led Judge Memorial to the 3A state track title.

Sellwood was drawing the attention of several college recruiters, but the sport he had barely learned was quickly becoming his best option at the next level.

“I went to a couple of kicking camps, and all of the sudden I was getting recruited by coach Jay Hill to come play here at Utah,” Sellwood recalled. “I came and watched a few games and thought it would be cool to play here. I always have loved soccer, but I thought life was taking me towards football, so I chose to play college football instead of pursue soccer further.”

The Utah coaches redshirted Sellwood his first year, giving him the opportunity to learn from All-American punter/place kicker Louie Sakoda.

“I didn’t really know how big college football was here, even while I was getting recruited,” Sellwood said. “College football is almost identical to playing professional soccer or rugby back in South Africa. When I got here, Louie showed me the ropes and helped mentor me during the Sugar Bowl year. I was always impressed by his work ethic. He worked really hard and taught me to do the same, to always strive to be the best.”

Sellwood implemented the lessons learned from Sakoda immediately. As a redshirt freshman, Sellwood was named a Freshman All-American by Rivals.com and Phil Steele.

He has continued to progress, and Sellwood was named to multiple watch lists entering the 2012 season, including the Ray Guy award presented to the nation’s top punter.

“It has been exciting for me,” Sellwood said. “As a player, you always focus on making the team better, but also being the best at your position. It is cool to get recognition for that and to achieve the goals I set for myself every year.”

Sellwood has had a great senior year so far. He was selected as the CBSsports.com Midseason All-America Team punter. He is averaging 48.4 yards per punt, which would place him second in the nation if he had enough punts to be ranked. He was also ranked either first or second in the nation in punt average for the first nine weeks of the season. During his career, Sellwood has 50 career punts of 50-plus yards – with 14 already this season – tying him with Sakoda for the school record.

Once his senior season concludes, Sellwood plans to pursue a career in football before attending medical school.

“I’m fortunate to have had the support from family, friends and coaches here at Utah,” Sellwood concluded. “I have made many lifelong friends and my family has shown me tremendous support. They come watch me every week, and my dad has practiced with me for hours without end. This has truly been a great experience.”

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