An uncertain punter situation for the Texas Longhorns gained some clarity on Wednesday evening when Australian Michael Dickson joined the 2015 recruiting class following a visit to Austin, according to Horns247.
Dickson's coach at ProKickAustralia, John A. Smith, tweeted out a photo of Dickson on an official visit on June 18 and the 6'3, 210-pounder followed up with an Instagram video taken in Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium with the caption "Woah..."
After losing William Russ and Michael Davidson to graduation after the 2014 season, the Horns faced major questions at punter throughout the spring, with redshirt sophomore Mitchell Becker handling those duties for five punts during the Orange-White game, averaging 38.2 yards per.
But since Becker averaged 38.8 yards per attempt as a senior in high school, there's not much evidence of consistency from him yet, a trait that plagued Russ throughout his scholarship career leading up to his first starting kicking job as a fifth-year senior punter.
The lack of quality replacement options leaves the door wide open for Dickson, especially considering the Longhorns special teams struggles over the recent years.
Here's his remarkable story:
"Michael is a born leader," said former Green Bay Packers punter and current Prokick Australia coach Nathan Chapman. "He's very obliging and will do anything the coaches ask of him. He's a quality punter that can flip the field and is an important piece to the puzzle for Texas. He's going to be used somewhat like Cameron Johnston at Ohio State (another Prokick Australia alum).
"Michael has a powerful leg. He can move left and right and kick it out of the back of end zones. He's a solid athletic unit who can run all day and pass any endurance test. And of course, he has a cracking right foot."
An Australian Rules Football player who picked up punting six months ago at the academy, Dickson had a tie to defensive backs coach Chris Vaughn through a Memphis connection and it paid off for Texas.
As with Becker, the issue for Dickson will be consistency, but if Strong and special teams coordinator Jeff Traylor opt for a ruby-style punting attack this season, Dickson will be the guy to reprise Justin Tucker's old punting role, once upon a time. Beyond that, if Dickson's leg is as "cracking" as Cameron noted Dickson having a 65-yard leg, he may have the most upside on the Texas roster for 2015, despite his notable inexperience.
But the praise Chapman spewed points towards Texas adding a special teams piece that could be of great value over the next handful of seasons, should he live up to this hype, per Orangebloods.com.
"He's got a 65-yard leg on him. He's going to give you exceptional hang time. He's very, very strong and solid, a well-developed young man. He comes from an Australian rules football background, where he was a team captain for what we call over here a professional junior academy. You're basically going to get a leader, a guy who is good at communicating, good at leading other players. He's really a strong-minded, serious competitor. Being around a professional type environment, he understands what it's like to work hard and get the best out of himself."
On late notice, the Horns may have an answer at a need position for a unit that averaged 40.8 yards on six attempts in the 2015 Orange-Whtie game, but managed a No. 39 ranking with Russ and Davidson in 2014, an uncommon bright-ish spot on special teams.