Illinois Adds 27-Year-Old Australian Punter Hugh Robertson to the Roster

Matthew Stevens

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Illinois will have the eighth-oldest college football player in the country and the nation’s second-oldest freshman this season.

The Illini program officially announced its roster Wednesday evening and by doing so, confirmed that Hugh Robertson will be on scholarship as a punter starting this season. According to NCAA rules, Robertson will be allowed to count toward the 25-signee limit of the 2020 recruiting class because he wasn’t officially put on scholarship until preseason practice began on Thursday.

Robertson, a native of Castlemaine, Australia, is expected to redshirt this season as Illinois will have fellow Australian Blake Hayes returning for his final season as the defending Big Ten Punter of the Year selection.

Robertson comes from the ProKick Australia program, which was designed to transition Australian rules football athletes to the college and professional American rules football game and has already produced five Ray Guy Award winners since its inception in 2007.

While playing Australian rules football in his native country, Robertson spent seven years working for the police department in Victoria and was a former member of the Australian national army.

As an Australian rules football player, Robertson played in 2019 as a member of the Bendigo Football League Senior Premiership, one of the oldest and most respected leagues in the country, playing for the Strathfieldsaye Football Netball Club. Some of Robertson’s other athletics endeavors and accomplishments in his native country include the 2010 Australian Kangaroo Racing Championship, a 2008 Australian Slam Dunk championship and earning Australia's Junior High Jump Record Holder at the age of six.

According to his bio on the Illinois football website, Hayes was very instrumental in recruiting Robertson over to the University of Illinois.

“I chose Illinois because the staff made me feel like family at the school and because Blake Hayes spoke so highly of the place,” Robertson said.

Robertson will be expected to take over the punter duties from Hayes in a 2021 season where Illinois is actually scheduled to open play on foreign soil in Dublin, Ireland, against Nebraska.

This past October, Illinois announced it is scheduled to play Nebraska as part of the Aer Lingus College Football Series in Dublin on Aug. 28, 2021. The Illinois-Nebraska game was supposed to be the second game of the Aer Lingus College Football Series and but the Notre Dame-Navy game schedule for this season was canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus epidemic.