Brad Wing and Jesse Williams are as different as apple pie and Vegemite and, in New Orleans on Tuesday (AEDT), the young Aussies will star in opposing sides in one of the great US sporting spectacles of the year.
Wing, 20, is an AFL cast-off from Melbourne with a big personality and, as punter, has become an unlikely weapon of the No.1-ranked US college football team, the Louisiana State University (LSU) Tigers.
Williams, 21, is a heavily-tattooed, quietly-spoken 193cm, 145kg man-mountain from Brisbane whose body mass and speed have become an integral piece of the University of Alabama’s intimidating defensive line.
LSU and Alabama will clash in New Orleans’ indoor arena, the Superdome, before almost 80,000 hysterical fans and a 30 million-plus US TV audience for college football’s version of the Superbowl, the BCS National Championship.
It is believed to be the first time two Australians will play in the game.
The US media, searching for interesting angles, have zeroed in on the two lads from down under.
“Could this get more bizarre?” The Los Angeles Times asked in a story carried on the front page of Sunday’s sport section.
With the only meeting between the two defensive-minded teams this season resulting in a 9-6 LSU victory and a huge punt by Wing credited for the Tigers’ win, the rock star punter and the gentle giant defensive lineman will likely again play decisive roles.
Punters are usually forgotten members of a gridiron team, but Wing, with his blonde locks, has become a US media darling, announcing to USA Today he plans “to revolutionise” punting with his American-Australian hybrid style.
He has also been described as “Baton Rouge’s most eligible bachelor” and has become a YouTube and nightclub dance floor sensation after an incident in a a game against Florida earlier in the season.
Wing faked a punt and ran 40 metres for a touchdown but, in the final few steps, he threw his arms slightly out in celebration. Under a new rule in college football, it was deemed unsportsmanlike conduct and his team was penalised and the touchdown erased.
It caused such a stir that the arm movement inspired “The Brad Wing” dance and versions on YouTube.
“I was just excited because I was taking it toward the LSU student section,” Wing, explaining the moment, said.
Williams, who as a defensive lineman delights in squashing opposing quarterbacks, plans to add to his considerable number of tattoos if Alabama cause an upset.
He plans to have a copy of the BCS trophy inked on his body.
“I guess the tattoos are a little intimidating, but I’m a pretty nice guy,” Williams, who sports a mohawk hairdo, told a crowd of reporters.