Brighton student’s NFL dreams boosted by coveted spot on GB men’s American football team

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A University of Brighton sports scholar, Herculas Pretorius, has been called up to Great Britain’s senior men’s American football team after success with his university team.

Herculas, who is a second-year Mechanical Engineering BEng(Hons) student at Brighton, is the youngest player to be named on the 45-man squad of the GB American football team. This follows his impressive showing at separate rounds of trials with the national men’s senior team.

As a beneficiary of the University of Brighton’s Talented Sports Performers programme, Herculas’ journey into the British American football team began at the Brighton Panthers where he plays as a linebacker.

Having already represented Great Britain in international matches at junior level, Herculas’ selection into the senior men’s team is major step towards his dreams of playing professional football at the highest level in the NFL. This summer, he will be playing for the Valley Huskers in the Canadian Junior Football League, a competition for 17–22-year-olds which provides an established route into professional football in North America.

In May, Herculas was named University of Brighton’s Sports Person of the Year 2024 in recognition of his exceptional performance. The Brighton Panthers American football team won Team of the Year 2024.

Herculas said: “I was incredibly excited when I found out I had been picked because it was a really competitive selection process. I know I’m very young compared to everyone else in the team, but it’s a big opportunity for me to go out there and represent the country to my best ability. Quite a few of the guys play professional football in Europe and being around them will really elevate my level.

“The University of Brighton sports scholarship has been instrumental in my journey. I receive valuable support from my lecturers and coaches, on and off the field. The academic and counselling support I get help me to balance my classroom work with training and playing for the Brighton Panthers.”

Lucy Callingham, Sports Development Officer at the University of Brighton, said: “We’re immensely proud of Herc’s journey as part of our Talented Sports Performer Programme. He discovered his passion for American Football with our Panthers team. His contribution helped the Brighton Panthers American football team to win the double in 2024 taking both promotion in the league and winning the BUCS Southern Cup. Now, he’s set to represent GB and will also showcase his talent in the Canadian leagues this summer.”

The University of Brighton supports talented sports performers with their athletic development by providing free sports facility and gym access, up to £500 in financial support, workshops for nutrition and psychology, weekly strength and conditioning sessions, reduced rates for physiotherapy and massages and lifestyle mentorship through Sport England accredited mentors.

The University of Brighton Sports Scholarship is open to anyone who has played any sport at a regional or national level or can demonstrate they have the potential to compete at those levels.

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