It was supposed to be a short, one year stay in America for Cairo Santos. Now it may be a lifetime in the States. He moved to Saint Augustine, Florida from Brazil at the age of 15 to learn English while living with a host family. He’d knew nothing about football – his focus was on his love of futbol (aka soccer). Then one afternoon on the schoolyard, after some coaxing from his classmates, Cairo started kicking field goals just to see what the fuss was all about.
He was pinpoint accurate. Nailing from 20 yards…then 30…then 40…and then 50. His classmates couldn’t believe it. Cairo didn’t see what the fuss was all about. But his classmates did. They recruited Cairo to the football team and he went on to shatter school records. Longest field goal (55 yards), 67 touchbacks (of 72 total kickoffs), and all of this was after he bought the game of Madden to learn the rules of the American game. After he completed his year in the States, his host family convinced him to stay another year and graduate from high school because they felt he had a great chance to get a college scholarship for football. He got many offers but chose Tulane because “the warm air in New Orleans reminded him of home.”
Cairo has gone on to have an incredible collegiate career with the Tulane Green Wave. He was all-conference as a freshman and went 21 for 21 kicking this year, including a school record 57-yarder. He was honored earlier this month with the Lou Groza Award, given annually to the NCAA’s best kicker. By all indications given his ability, Cairo will continue kicking in the NFL, continuing his stay in the United States. Quite a story for a longshot kid who didn’t even know the game of football six years ago.