Tom Hutton needed to sleep after a long shift at the paper mill.
As a young adult living in Australia, before he had any reason to care about a random university in north-central Oklahoma, Hutton stuck to a rigorous work schedule: two 12-hour days and two 12-hour nights each week. At the end of a nocturnal shift, he was finally taking some time to snooze.
Then the phone rang.
Hutton snapped out of his groggy state and talked to a representative of Prokick Australia, the organization that was connecting him and numerous other Australian athletes with opportunities to play American football.
Coaches at Oklahoma State were interested in extending a scholarship to Hutton.
Before answering another call to speak with Steve Hauser, the then-graduate assistant who coordinated special teams for the Cowboys, Hutton had 20 minutes to conduct a Google search of OSU.
How much did Hutton know about his soon-to-be home?
It took gumption for Hutton and his wife, Kelsey, to uproot their lives and start over in Oklahoma. They had been to the United States for a trip to Hawaii but never set foot on the mainland until the campus visit that happened a few months after Hutton’s call with Hauser. At 28, Hutton was already more than five years older than many college seniors.
This was no ordinary scenario, but Tom and Kelsey, who got…