San Diego State specialist Matt Araiza made quite a name for himself in 2021.
He was hitting 86-yard bombs that took social media by storm and set FBS records for punt average, 50-yard punts and 60-yard punts. The lefty from Rancho Bernardo High School led the nation in total punt yards, rolling up a remarkable 300 per game.
Along the way he caught a whole lot of eyes, doing national interviews with Rich Eisen and Jim Rome. Araiza was named a 1st team All-American, won Mountain West Conference Special Teams Player of the Year honors, and was bestowed with the nickname "Punt God."
So, winning the Ray Guy Award as the best punter in America was kind of a no-brainer.
Get San Diego local news, weather forecasts, sports and lifestyle stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC San Diego newsletters.
Araiza officially added that trophy to his rapidly expanding collection on Thursday night, beating out fellow finalists Adam Korsak from Rutgers and Penn State's Jordan Stout. He's the first Aztec to win the award, which has been handed out every year since 2000.
Araiza is just a junior and could come back to SDSU to defend his title. Utah's Tom Hackett is the only man to win back-to-back Ray Guy Awards (in 2014 and 2015). There is also a chance the Punt God could declare for the NFL Draft, where he'd undoubtedly be the first specialist off the board. In fact, the last punter taken in the 1st round was Ray Guy himself.
He's also the only punter ever to be inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Araiza is already being regarded as owning the greatest punting season in college football history, and he did it while also handling field goal and kickoff duties so he couldn't fully focus on just being a punter.
While pro football has a longstanding bias against specialists Araiza probably won't b e a 1st round pick ... but a player as talented and impactful as he is can certainly put a bust in Canton on his list of career goals.