Aussie Yankey looking dandy for NFL start
JARRYD Hayne has never been far from the headlines since announcing he was going to chase his dream of playing in the NFL.
Whether the former NRL star can make it with the San Francisco 49ers remains to be seen.
But one Aussie who seems certain to get his shot at the big time in the coming season is Sydney-born David Yankey.
Weighing in at 143kg and standing 198cm, the 23-year-old was selected in the fifth round of last year's draft by the Minnesota Vikings after a strong college career with Stanford that saw him chosen in the consensus All-American teams of 2012 and 2013.
Stanford offensive assistant Joe Ashfield, recently in Australia to help run a coaching clinic for Queensland gridiron players, said he was confident Yankey would get some game time this season.
"I worked with David and he's my guy. He can go a long way," Ashfield told APN. "He's very talented. He's got a lot of position flexibility - he can play up to four positions on the offensive line.
"He had such a good year and had a lot of accolades coming out of college, that I think we all thought he'd go in and earn some playing time in his first season in the NFL.
"That didn't happen for him, but partially because he went to a team that had really good players at his position."
Yankey is now second in line on the Vikings' left-guard pre-season depth chart, but Ashfield said that could change quickly.
"If you're second on the depth chart for a position, that means you're probably going to suit up for games," he said.
"Just talking with him this off-season he feels good about where he is."
Another Stanford assistant, inside linebackers coach Peter Hansen, who was at San Francisco as a defensive assistant when the franchise made three straight NFC Championship games earlier this decade, was also in Brisbane for the clinics.
He said the 49ers had plenty of resources to ensure Hayne had the best chance of success.
"It'll be interesting in terms of how fast he (Hayne) can learn. There's a lot on his plate with how fast he can learn and what he can do once he does," Hansen said.
"He can work with the running back coach specifically, but if the running back coach has other guys, he can take a running back assistant.
"Or he could talk to the special teams coach as far as returning punts, and there's an assistant there too.
"There are all kinds of minds there for him to pick and learn from."
Ashield said he didn't think Hayne would see any game time this season, adding his best chance would be to make the practice squad and then hope to break into the team in the 2016-17 season.