San Diego State University

Kicking It With Matt Araiza: Former SDSU Kicker On His Punting Past, Present and NFL Future

After declaring for the NFL Draft, former San Diego State kicker and Rancho Bernardo High School alum Matt Araiza talked about his super season and his potential pro career with NBC 7's Todd Strain

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Big booming kicks?

Pining an opposing team deep in their own territory?

Making a tackle on kick coverage?

What's Matt Araiza's favorite part about punting?

"You hit a really big ball and hear you everyone in the stands kind of gasp at the same moment, that's probably the coolest part about it," said Matt Araiza, as a big smile crept over his face.

After deciding to leave San Diego State after his junior season and declaring for the NFL Draft, Araiza visited with NBC 7 to talk about all he's accomplished and what's ahead.

That combination of a big kick and a big reaction, that Araiza referenced, came together for punt perfection on October 23 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

"At Air Force, the one punt that kind of went viral. After I kicked it, I remember looking up and hearing everyone, even at an away game, everyone was kind of surprised. That one was cool, that's my favorite part."

Shortly after that, Araiza and his 60, 70, 80-yard punts became a social media sensation. Rodger Sherman of The Ringer dubbed Araiza "The Punt God." Former Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee was effusive in his praise. More accolades, recognition and social media buzz followed and pretty soon Araiza had made kicker a cool position.

Araiza felt the impact he was making on the position firsthand. Among his many social media engagements with his new fans, Araiza says one stands out, about halfway through the season a dad tweeted him a video of his son practicing punting just like "Matt Araiza."

"Inspiring kids and maybe making the position a little bit cooler is nice to me," said Ariaza after reflecting on that social media interaction.

In the 2021 season, Araiza set various school, conference and national records. He won the Ray Guy Award given to the nation's top college punter. After the season, Araiza put all the awards and honors aside and took a hard look at his skills and career, and decided he was physically and mentally ready for the NFL.

Araiza is projected to be drafted somewhere between the 3rd and 6th round in the 2022 NFL Draft.

"With any position the draft is crazy, you could be projected to go anywhere and end up somewhere completely different, so I'm not putting too much into that, I'm just focused on what I can do and performing to the best of my ability. Wherever I end up going, I'll be excited and just ready to get to work."

In the NFL, Araiza acknowledges he may need to make some adjustments to his punting style, especially when it comes to hang time. At the same time, Araiza believes his "punt missiles" could be a game-changer and break the old NFL mold.

"One of the things I hope to change about the game is that not every punt needs a great hang-time. For example, hitting a touchback that nets you 50 yards is something I don't really see guys in the NFL try to do, but I think it's something they should. I think it's an advantage where if you can hit a ball with a low hang-time, kind of a line drive that goes 70 yards, if you're line of scrimmage is 30, then you should net 50 yards and with no return that's really good. A net 50 ball is a big success and I think that's something teams should try and do. That's just how I view the game, and how I think it would be best to play my skill sets in the NFL."

Now if Araiza gets to the NFL, what's his ultimate goal?

"I'd love to hit one 80 yards in the air in a game, that's my goal right now. I think that would be pretty crazy and pretty fun to watch."

Matt Araiza making kicking cool, crazy and fun to watch all at the same time.

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