What Matt Araiza did in college football was revolutionary from a position where it’s tough to disrupt how the game is played. But the San Diego State punter, nicknamed “Punt God” by Twitter and anyone that has seen his 80-yard moonshots for three seasons with the Aztecs, has declared for the 2022 NFL Draft.
In three seasons in both Carson and off I-8, Araiza changed perceptions of what punters could do with a football. His preposterous 51.2 yards per punt average in 2021 shattered all the records you could find already, but it’s not just his bionic left leg that replaced what was perceived as possible. It’s his placement and accuracy, being able to pin opponents from basically anywhere on a football field.
Araiza also place kicked in college with mixed success. He made all 45 extra points his senior season, but was just 18 of 28 on field goals, and struggled with accuracy at times. But as Alex Kirshner of FiveThirtyEight.com points out, what he’s doing is beyond historical comparison so far.
It would be hard to see Araiza not being picked by the middle of Day 2 at the NFL Draft, and he might challenge Roberto Aguayo and Sebastian Janikowski as some of the highest selections as specialists in the modern era of the NFL.