Aussie punter oozing star quality in cut-throat NFL
HE'S the only man ever to be overlooked in the AFL's draft but selected in the NFL's and now Michael Dickson is being hailed as punting revolutionary.
Four years after his AFL dream was crushed, the Sydney Swans' academy product is excelling for the Seattle Seahawks just six games into his professional career.
Punters are usually the most anonymous of figures in NFL teams, but so prodigious was the right boot of Dickson for his college team Texas, the Seahawks moved up in this year's draft to select him in the fifth round.
At Texas the Sydneysider was voted the Big 12 conferences's best special teams player in successive seasons and last year he was named the top college punter in the country.
That success saw him forego his final year at Texas to try and reach the NFL career.
However, teams rarely draft punters and DIckson admits leaving early was a huge risk.
"I was with my cousin and my girlfriend," Dickson said in London where the Seahawks took on Oakland at Wembley Stadium on Monday morning (EST).
"It was a super stressful day, there is so much going on and I didn't want to be around too many people.
"I told myself if I didn't get drafted not to get to down as I would back myself to find a team.
"But when it happened it was great to be around the people that I love.
"It was probably the best day of my life when my name was called out."
Upon his arrival in Seattle, Dickson saw off the team's long-time punter Jon Ryan to earn his spot on the 53-man roster.
On his debut against Denver, he became the first NFL player to average more than 59.9 yards on six punts - including a 69-yarder.
A week later he created national headlines by successfully producing a rugby-style drop kick against Chicago - the first time any player had attempted one in the NFL since 2015.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said the decision to draft Dickson has so far been vindicated.
"Field position is enormously important to our style of play, and Michael kicking the ball deep, pinning them back, is important," Carroll said.
"But (so is) changing the field with some kicks that he's capable of doing - not to mention the other things.
"The placement of the ball and the things like that ... (are) a lot of really cool things that you don't normally get from a punter."
Despite the praise that's rained down upon him, Dickson, who learned to spiral kick watching videos of former Aussie NFL punters Sav Rocca, Darren Bennett and Ben Graham, insists what he's doing is not revolutionary but simply different.
"What we're trying to do now is approaching punting in a different way," he said.
"Instead of kicking it with a high hang time you are kicking it with a low hang time so they are getting no chance to return, instead of hoping they don't return."