Australian junior college punter Michael Sleep-Dalton commits to ASU

Arizona State is likely to have two scholarship punters on its 2016 roster following the commitment of Michael Sleep-Dalton to the program Thursday.

As the saying goes, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. 

Arizona State coach Todd Graham has no doubt grown tired of Utah punter Tom Hackett, an Australian who won the Ray Guy Award last season and has been a huge field position weapon for the Utes against the Sun Devils and others in the Pac-12 in recent years. 

Graham obviously isn't going to be able to get Hackett to switch teams and Hackett is out of eligibility after this year anyway. So Graham went out and did the next best thing: secure a commitment from a fellow Australian who shares the same ProKick Australia punting instructors as Hackett, Michael Sleep-Dalton

"I didn't expect it to come so fast," Sleep-Dalton said of scholarship opportunity, his first. "I wasn't going to be punting next season even if worst came to worst and I didn't have a scholarship. I would have taken a redshirt. I was so surprised with how fast the process has been with Arizona State. 

"I first received contact on Monday from a recruiter and I received a phone call from (special teams) coach (Shawn) Slocum on Tuesday night. We were having a chat and he was telling me how interested they were in me. Today I was asked to call him again and I did and he offered me a scholarship."

Sleep-Dalton, 6-foot-2, 207 pounds, averages 42.2 punts this season as a freshman at San Francisco City College and is expected to graduate in the spring with four years to play three seasons at the Division I level. Before arriving in the states, the 23-year-old said he played three years of Australian Rules Football. 

"I tried to make it as far as I could professionally and I got to a place where I had to also work and it was virtually impossible to do both at the same time and so I sort of gave up that dream," he said. "My cousin is at Ohio State as the punter, Cameron Johnston (who led the Big Ten last year with a punt average of 45.1 yards). He got me to Pro Kick and I had a few training session with (coach) Nathan (Chapman) and it was pretty quick from there."

Part of what has made Hackett and other Australian kickers so successful in the college game, including 2013 Ray Guy Award winner Tom Hornsey, in the United States is their ability to roll out and kick the ball multi-directionally. 

"I haven't spent much time with Tim Hornsey but I have spent a lot of time with Tom Hackett," Sleep-Dalton said. "His roll out, we're probably very equal with that. It's sort of hard to compare to each other and you don't want to say I'm better than someone or they're better than me. We are all very good at what we do."

Sleep-Dalton has the ability to take that to another level. The natural right foot punter also can punt the ball with his left foot, though he said he hasn't yet had to do so with SFCC. That provides the opportunity to roll out either way and keeps defenses even more off-guard. 

"I'm a lot stronger with my right foot and a lot more accurate," he said. "My left foot is probably equally good as a lot of the guys I've been kicking against here at schools that we play (at SFCC)."

ASU was the first college to offer Sleep-Dalton a scholarship and he committed without even seeing the campus. He's expected to visit ASU officially on Dec. 5 weekend, where he'll take a closer look at the school of construction management, which will be his major. 

ASU's current starting punter Matt Haack will be a senior next season, so the Sun Devils would have two scholarship punters on their roster. Sleep-Dalton has a redshirt year available to him if he does graduate in the spring, as expected. 

Hackett is first in the Pac-12 with an average of 46.9 yards. Haack is averaging 42.0 yards, which is seventh in the league. He has a long of 63 yards. 


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