Matt Araiza didn’t count on to turn out to be the breakout star of this previous college or university football year. He did not plan to make nicknames like “Punt God” and “The Punter That Was Promised.” Nor did he consider he’d be forgoing his final year of faculty eligibility and declaring for the NFL draft.
In actuality, the San Diego Point out punter and placekicker had his eye on taking part in in his school’s brand name-new stadium up coming time whilst likely for a master’s degree. But then came the 50-, 60-, 70- and even 80-garden punts, a couple of NCAA information and the prestigious Ray Guy Award, given to higher education football’s top punter. Instantly, everything modified for the 21-12 months-aged.
“It’s like in basketball when anyone has the hot hand,” Araiza tells Forbes. “I obtained the scorching foot proper now, and I want to get this momentum to the future stage.”
That momentum will possible be certain a beneficial potential: NFL punters gained $1.6 million on average past season. And in Araiza’s situation, there could be even more cash on the desk. The San Diego County native presently has a deal with Giorgio Armani that hasn’t compensated him any hard cash but outfitted him in what he estimates is about $15,000 worth of apparel. He also collected all-around $7,500 from Panini on a rookie card offer, with an alternative to double that, a promising get started for a player at a position that is normally missed by entrepreneurs.
With no the identify recognition that follows offensive stars like jogging backs and vast receivers, punters and kickers are lucky to do any greater than five-determine specials from local and regional brands, according to George Washington College sporting activities administration professor Lisa Delpy Neirotti.
However, when he may perhaps by no means match quarterbacks like Tom Brady ($45 million), Patrick Mahomes ($22 million) and Aaron Rodgers ($11 million) with their multimillion-dollar annual endorsement paydays, Araiza is on monitor to join a decide on group of specific groups endorsers. Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker has done commercials for Dr Pepper, Duracell and Royal Farms. Former Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos punter Marquette King was an ambassador for headphones business Velodyne. In an extraordinary instance, former Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee exploded as a media temperament just after retiring from the NFL in 2016. He struck a four-calendar year, $120 million deal with FanDuel Sportsbook very last yr to sponsor his sporting activities-primarily based YouTube channel and Sirius XM exhibit.
There is a lot more to it. Araiza is of Mexican descent, and the NFL is actively making an attempt to embrace its worldwide supporter foundation. 4 of the NFL’s most significant one-sport attendance totals arrived in Mexico Metropolis, which include a 1994 preseason sport amongst the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Oilers that drew a history 112,376, and the league has ideas to return there in 2022. Yet the selection of Latino players in the NFL is significantly less than two dozen, not even plenty of to area a full group.
Models centered in Mexico could gravitate toward Araiza as an endorser, states Eugene Lee, an NFL agent with more than two a long time in the sector. But, he notes, “everything off the industry has to align. There has to be on-field excellence, and there has to be upstanding character off the field. He has to be an attractive prospect for these manufacturers as an ambassador.”
The relaxation is up to him, a significant problem considering that punters are inclined to fly underneath the radar. Though they enjoy a important purpose in the fight for area position—something Araiza excelled at with San Diego State—punters’ achievements does not translate into factors on the scoreboard or highlight moments like video game-winning subject plans.
“Unlike catching an acrobatic landing catch or creating a precise toss in protection, there is seriously not substantially digicam time that’s devoted to the punt itself,” Lee suggests.
Even if he does deal with to kick himself into the hearts of fans, Araiza will nevertheless have to have to hone his abilities as a pitchman and build out his social media presence, which is a “huge driver” in acquiring model discounts currently, Lee claims. Araiza has much less than 25,000 followers involving Instagram and Twitter. Carolina Panthers punter Johnny Hekker, by comparison, has approximately 150,000 throughout the platforms.
Araiza won’t be section of the draft fanfare in Las Vegas this weekend, picking out to look at from residence with loved ones in San Diego, and suggests he’s not producing sponsorships a priority. Instead, he is retaining his target on landing just one of the league’s 32 punting work opportunities, aided by his triple-danger skill to punt, kick off and strike area plans.
“If I go out there and I’m a Pro Bowler in my rookie year, deals will appear,” Araiza states.