When former Australian Rules Football player Michael Dickson joined the Texas Longhorns in 2015, he’d never played in a live football game.
So there were some definite growing pains for the Prokick Australia product. Shanked punts in practice. A snap that went through his hands against Oklahoma State, a critical late-game mistake that hurt Texas and led to the game-winning field goal. A lack of consistency with his punts.
And then Dickson’s pure talent and leg strength started to shine through as a sophomore, as his average of 41.3 yards per punt increased to 47.4 yards per punt, a school record. Dickson was named the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year and a Ray Guy Award finalist.
As a junior, Dickson took the next step, turning in the best performance by a punter ever tracked by Pro Football Focus. While Dickson matched his average of 47.4 yards per punt, his consistency and precision improved, helping him once again win the Big 12 Specials Teams Player of the Year and win the Ray Guy Award. Of his 73 punts during the regular season, 34 traveled at least 50 yards, with 14 reaching 60 yards, including a career-long effort of 76 yards against TCU. More notably, Dickson downed 32 punts inside the 20-yard line, 27 inside the 15, 14 inside the 10 and six within the five-yard line.
Dickson’s performance against Missouri in the Texas Bowl ended his career in burnt orange on the highest note possible, downing 10 of his 11 punts inside the 20-yard line and showing off his precision punting ability. Seven of those punts landed inside the 10-yard line and four landed inside the 5-yard line. Remarkably, none of those 11 punts resulted in touchbacks, even though so many landed so close to the goal line.
Dickson doesn’t just have a strong leg, he has the ability to deaden punts to keep them from going into the end zone, a combination that is rare.
Punters don’t often leave school early and even more rarely go in the first three rounds — only one punter has accomplished that feat in the last 10 years. With a projected draft grade between the third and fourth rounds, Dickson could accomplish that feat and become the second Texas player drafted.
After that, it will be time to enjoy his punting in the NFL for 15 or 20 years. Eventually, he has a chance to become the league’s best.