JASPER McMillan-Pittard is one potential draftee that is talking the talk.
Most young footballers let their physical skills do the talking, but this Geelong Falcon impressed AFL clubs at the recent AFL draft camp so much so that some even talked him up as a future assistant coach.
Since then, his interest from clubs has rapidly increased from a few to every one of them.
“Sydney Swans coach Paul Roos joked to me after interviewing him that don’t worry about drafting him, we should pull him in as assistant coach,” Geelong Falcons regional manager Mick Turner said.
“He’s a very intelligent kid.”
“He asks a lot of questions not because he doesn’t understand but because he wants to learn more.”
“I’ve been doing this job for 13 years and he’s probably one of the better kids that have come through the program,” Turner said.
The only downfall is that the club he goes to has to have patience.
He is a skinny 72 kilograms, meaning he needs time to mature physically.
“He’s a late developer,” Turner said.
“He’s always been a kid that has had the potential to get drafted. But even though he’s 18 this year, biologically, he’s probably under 17 because he’s a pretty skinny kid.”
“He’s a beautiful left foot kick but unlike a lot of left footers, he’s probably kicked nearly as well as his right foot. He’s super quick in his testing.”
“AFL clubs will look at him and think that he’s two or three years under developed but in two or three years time, he could be anything.”
“He plays a bit like Andrew Mackie off a back flank or a wing,” he said.
But Turner went on to say that he would be a quicker developer than the raw but skinny Ayce Cordy, a former Falcon who was drafted at No.14 in last year’s draft.
“I think he’s a bit more developed than Ayce. I think he will develop quicker than Ayce. Depending where he goes, it wouldn’t surprise me if he played a couple of games next year,” he said.
McMillan-Pittard lived in Brunswick with his mother Karen before moving to the beach two years ago to live with his father Michael and his wife Adele and Jasper’s two sisters – Matisse, 5, and Stellaluna, 3.
His first year on the Falcons list – last year – was mainly spent playing for Torquay seniors in the Bellarine Football League.
He impressed so much that he won BFL’s Rookie of the Year award and the Roger Boak club person of the year award at Torquay.
“It was beneficial in the sense that even thought I was lighter, I could take the hits and not really let it scare me or anything and I could use my attributes like running to beat my opponents,” McMillan-Pittard told Football Nation.
“It wasn’t particularly a strong competition either which helped but I had a lot of confidence to back myself in.”
“I knew where I was at. I was told that there would be a lack of opportunities last year. I played the four games and I just learnt off the calibre of staff at the Falcons.”
“I wasn’t disappointed at all,” he said.
He said he was surprised to win the Rookie of the Year award.
“I was pleasantly surprised of the morning of the grand final that I got told to come in a little earlier and got the rookie of the year award, voted by all the coaches of the clubs in the competition,” he said.
“That was pretty flattering because there were a few other guys who had good seasons.”
The St Joseph’s College student has since grown in stature on the football field, despite his slim frame.
Increasingly, he would get more of the ball, add speed and endurance to his game and become more consistent.
“As a kid playing Auskick, you just want to play AFL.”
“Until you’re probably when you’re 17 or 18, you don’t really have an idea how close you are or you aren’t.”
“I rated it as consistent. I really would have liked to stand out a bit more. I think at times, I’ve held back a little bit. But I definitely didn’t think I stood out.”
The Falcons are expected to be the team with the most players drafted led by midfielders Ben Cunnington and Gary Rohan.
“I think that helps each player reach their potential if you’re playing in a good side and when you’re winning each week, it’s a good environment,” McMillan-Pittard said.
McMillan-Pittard said he puts his inquisitive nature – which enhanced his draft chances at the draft camp – down to the way he was brought up.
He has been the bolter in the draft ranks in recent weeks going from a top 40 player into a definite top 20 player.
“I wasn’t doing all the testing at the camp and I knew the camp wasn’t about all the physical things. I wanted to make sure that I had a bit of knowledge on the clubs so I went and saw them and showed that I was a bit more interested and switched on and I had a few questions that I wanted to ask so I could learn what it would be like if I went there,” he said.
“I got some good feedback on that.”
“It’s probably the way my parents have brought me up. It’s a bit of confidence in the way I talk, confidence with older people. Always making sure I’m not afraid to give an opinion,” he said.
By Brent Diamond