HE is the Bradford speedster who is making the move from rugby league to American football.

But 23-year-old Jacob Smillie knows his dreams of making it in the NFL are on a knife-edge.

The former Halifax and Swinton player, and ex-Bradford Bulls reserve, was chosen as one of 50 players from around the world to participate in the NFL Combine at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium earlier this week.

But he is unlikely to find out whether he is one of the lucky eight chosen from that for the NFL's International Player Pathway Program until at least next month.

If it all goes to plan, he could get drafted next April, and find himself selected to play for one of the NFL's 32 franchises for the 2022/23 season.

Smillie's proud mother, Dee, said: "There were only 12 players selected to get assessed at the Combine from the UK, and Jacob was the only one of those from outside of London.

"The game's getting a little bigger down south, but up north it's barely heard of, so that's credit to Jacob.

"It's funny because we were watching an NFL game on Sky Sports a few days ago, and it's an absolutely massive sport really.

"As well as those based in the UK, players came from Japan, New Zealand, Germany and Nigeria for the Combine, and once the NFL have assessed one final group in Mexico, they will go away and make a decision on those selected for the Pathway."

Dee added: "In the UK, young people in sport tend to get put in a box, where they play football, cricket or rugby, and Jacob did play the latter for a long time.

"But there are so many other sports out there.

"Jacob wasn't part of any American football team, so he was spotted by just filming his own training sessions and uploading old videos of him playing rugby league.

"One of them shows a length of the field try he scored for Halifax's reserves and others just show off his speed in general.

"Giving himself exposure like that meant the NFL had heard all about him, and his position in American football is, unsurprisingly, a running back."

Smillie's career in rugby league at elite level never really took off. The winger made one senior appearance in the 1895 Cup for Fax, before linking up with Bulls and their reserves for 2020.

But the coronavirus pandemic meant his time there never got off the ground.

He joined Swinton for 2021, but injury ruined his spell there, and he never made an appearance before leaving in May to pursue a potential career in the NFL.

But he has never let those tough times get him down, with Dee saying: "He enjoys motivating young people, often those from deprived backgrounds.

"He'll always encourage them, as many of them have no self-worth, and tell them they can make something of themselves.

"He's spoken to children in several schools, largely in the Bradford area, just about having ambition, and not letting their upbringing or lack of money be a barrier."