Utah gets early start to signing day, adds Australian rugby star

SALT LAKE CITY, UT – OCTOBER 8: General view of Rice-Eccles Stadium, before the game between the Arizona Wildcats and the Utah Utes on October 8, 2016 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)

Utah got an early start to national signing day.

Even though the second signing period doesn’t begin until 7 a.m. Wednesday morning, the Utes announced the addition of Thomas Yassmin to its 2018 recruiting class on Tuesday afternoon.

[Rivals National Signing Day Live-Blog]

You may be wondering how that’s possible. Well, Yassmin is a native of Australia. And because of the time difference — Yassmin attends Scots College in suburban Sydney, which is 18 hours ahead of Salt Lake City — he was able to officially sign his national letter of intent.

There have been plenty of Australians playing college football in recent years, but they’ve primarily been kickers or punters. Yassmin has never played football before, but is “one of the best rugby players at his age in the country of Australia,” according to Utah defensive line coach Lewis Powell.

At 6-foot-5 and 242 pounds, the Utes’ coaching staff is hoping to use Yassmin’s combination of size and athleticism on offense.

“He’s really explosive, quick twitch and really long. We’ll try him out at different spots,” Powell said. “If he’d like to be a receiver or a tight end, wherever he fits the best we’ll put him in there.”

“He for sure has all the ability. He’s tough. When you watch his rugby highlights, he can run and he can tackle. Somebody running that fast and tackling and being that physical at his size is the reason why we’re bringing him in.”

Yassmin, who only knows football from watching the game and playing Madden, told Fox Sports Australia that Utah’s academics were a big part of his decision to accept a scholarship to the school. On the football side, Utah’s penchant for producing NFL talent was attractive to Yassmin, who chose the Utes over reported interest from Oregon, Washington, UCLA and Hawaii.

Yassmin told Fox Sports he’ll depart Australia for Salt Lake City on February 28. He hopes to play as a freshman, but knows the learning curve from rugby to football may result in a redshirt year — especially learning all of those bloody plays.

The part of the learning process that most scares the Sydneysider?

“The plays,” Yassmin said, without hesitation. “100 percent.”

“Memorising the plays. They bloody name plays after combinations of fruits and colours. Honestly, ‘red book this’. It’s learning that, then also if they call an audible, knowing what the audible is. Hearing it, seeing it. I think that’s gonna be the hardest bit.”

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Sam Cooper is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!