He’d recruited and was getting to know his new first-year punter, Tom Sheldon. Usually, having a rookie punter is enough to worry about, but Sheldon was a unique case — he’s 27 years old, came from Australia and had never played American football before. Fedora had never seen his new recruit in person before, but he showed up on campus just as he was advertised in grainy scouting videos.
His teammates didn’t know exactly what to expect either from their new teammate. Anthony Ratliff-Williams says he remembers watching Brandon Weeden, another athlete with a non-traditional path to college football, play for Oklahoma State a few years back. If Weeden could do it, Ratliff-Williams was hopeful Sheldon could too. And early on, his kicks in practice impressed his teammates and new coach.
“When he came in, he was just booting the ball, so it was just like, ‘That’s crazy,’” Ratliff-Williams said. “And he can actually control where he took it, so that was just a talent to us. We were just amazed, blessed to have him. Glad he came here.”
It’s been his talent, but also his ability to adapt to the game, that has impressed Fedora.