In the fall, Brandon Heicklen gets attention for what he does on a football field. A standout freshman punter for Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft High, Heicklen had already received major accolades before even arriving on the high school scene, earning Junior All-American honors as a seventh grader.
Yet despite his success kicking an American football, it's another sport where Heicklen may truly break out: Australian Rules football. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, the 14-year-old is a promising member of the Beachside Sharks, an adult Aussie Rules team based out of Santa Monica.
The other 25 members are all above the age of 25, yet Heicklen is still a standout forward for the squad.
In fact, he's shown so many flashes for the Sharks that Heicklen has now earned an extremely rare honor: He's been called up to train with the Under-16 national team. Still just 14, Heicklen will spend July practicing with the squad in Australia leading up to the under 16 2011 NAB AFL U16 National Championships (that's a mouthful, huh?) in Sydney, Australia during the week of July 11.
Where Heicklen goes from here will be interesting. With an average punt of more than 40 yards just one season into prep football, it's entirely possible that the teen could have a collegiate football future. At the same time, any American teen who is promising enough to get an opportunity with an under-16 squad as a high school freshman clearly has a bright future in that sport, too, even if it would require a rather drastic location change to bring a professional future.
Regardless of which sport Heicklen eventually focuses on, it's clear that he has the talent and ambition to go a long ways, perhaps even to Stanford or Harvard, schools the straight-A student has openly dreamed of competing for one day.