2022 NFL Combine: The Matt Araiza ‘Punt God’ Experience Wows Them In Indianapolis

They call him simply, “Punt God.”

It might not be good enough to capture the greatness that is Matt Araiza.

The San Diego State punter became a college football legend in the 2021 season, booming punts all over the Mountain West conference and setting NCAA records with kick after jaw-dropping kick. Not since Ray Guy with the Oakland Raiders in the early 1970s has a punter captured the imagination of the football world quite like Araiza.

On Sunday, Araiza brought his special brand of punting proficiency to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. He did not disappoint.

Araiza bombs a 77-yard punt at the Combine … and that was just during warm-ups

Sunday was Special Teams day on the second to last day of the Combine, and so here was Araiza’s chance to show all the NFL coaches and scouts what fans in Southern California already knew: That this was a once-in-a-lifetime punter threatening to be the first punter drafted on Day 2 of the NFL Draft since Bryan Anger with the 70th pick in the third round of the 2012 draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

And the onlookers at Lucas Oil Stadium didn’t even have to wait for the official proceedings. With a practice punt that immediately went viral, Araiza did what was almost routine during the 2021 season, hitting the ball with his magic right foot at the 23-yard line and sending it 75 yards in the air, where it nestled just inches from the opposite goal line for an unofficial 77-yard boot.

Had that happened in an actual NFL game, it would have been talked about for years as maybe the greatest punt of all time.

And if Araiza, who also kicked field goals and extra points for San Diego State, wasn’t done wowing the crowd, he even showed off a different talent with his leg, running the 40-yard dash in 4.68 seconds. Punt God was Run God, too.

In 2021, Araiza’s punts became must-see events for San Diego State fans and special teams scouts

Social media was agog over the 77-yard punt on Sunday, but for Aztecs fans, it wasn’t even close to his best efforts of 2021.

Consider: There has only been one punt in the NFL since 2014 that has traveled 80 yards. Araiza did it twice just last season.

Araiza set the single-season NCAA record for punting average with 51.19 yards per punt. He also holds the NCAA single-season record for punts more than 50 yards with 39 and punts of 60 yards or more with 18. He managed to put 39 punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.

Araiza became only the second unanimous All-American in San Diego State history. The other one? Marshall Faulk. Araiza easily won the Ray Guy Award, and now he threatens to join Guy in the rarest class of all: Punters drafted in the first three rounds.

How early will Araiza go in the 2022 NFL Draft?

Araiza declared himself eligible for the 2022 Draft despite another year of college eligibility. And who could blame him? His draft stock even before his Combine performance was as high as any punter in decades.

And yet, that might not earn Araiza a selection higher than the fifth round, as teams are simply not willing to risk a high draft choice on a punter, even one with the record-breaking skills as Araiza. Maybe his big boomer on Sunday will change the calculus a bit. The Los Angeles Chargers, just 90 miles north of San Diego, have expressed interest.

The next chapter for the Punt God awaits.

Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference

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