When the NFL sent him a direct message on Twitter notifying him that he had made the Pro Bowl, Seahawks rookie punter Michael Dickson said he was "pumped." But he certainly wasn't surprised.
As Michael Dickson stood at a podium adjacent to the Seahawks’ indoor practice field on Wednesday, long snapper Tyler Ott walked by and playfully shouted a confounding question.
“Why are you so good at punting?”
Realistically, there are probably a thousand reasons. The “why” doesn’t really matter.
The Seahawks’ coaches care much more about the results.
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Like, for instance, the fact that the 22-year-old rookie currently leads the NFL in both punt average (48.9 yards) and net average (44.2 yards); that he boomed a 65-yard punt and dropped two more at the 1- and 2-yard-lines, respectively, in 20 mph winds last Sunday in San Francisco; that he subsequently became the first rookie punter to be named to the Pro Bowl since the Los Angeles Rams’ Dale Hatcher in 1985.
Pete Carroll and Co. took a chance on a punter in the fifth round for a reason.
But Dickson has been even better than the Seahawks’ staff could have hoped.
“I couldn’t have imagined he could be so consistent throughout the season in his rookie year,” Carroll said on Wednesday. “He had a great game in the weather and the wind and a little bit of rain and the turf and all that last week. I just couldn’t have imagined he could be that consistently good.
“So we’re thrilled about the pick and thrilled about having that guy on our team. He’s got a great attitude about it. He’s handled everything well.”
But how, exactly, did Dickson handle the news of his Pro Bowl selection on Tuesday?
“The NFL just (direct messaged) me on Twitter as it was live. I don’t have cable or anything so I wasn’t watching it on TV,” said Dickson, who unseated longtime Seahawks punter Jon Ryan in training camp. “They just sent me a message that said, ‘Congrats.’ That’s how I found out. I was pumped.
“I was on the phone to my cousin when I found out and I was just like, ‘Dude, I made it.’”
Dickson made it, and the punter was appropriately pumped.
But surprised? Not so much.
“Basically when I left college, before I got drafted or anything, that was obviously the goal (to make the Pro Bowl),” the native Australian said. “Before I started even punting my goal was to win the Ray Guy Award (for college football’s premier punter).”
In short order Dickson has accomplished both, all since ditching Australian rules football in favor of American football in Jan. 2015. Less than eight months after he punted his first American pigskin, Dickson flew from Sydney, Australia, to Austin, Texas, and started as a true freshman for UT.
If Dickson was told then that he’d make a Pro Bowl less than four years later, what would be his response?
“I probably wouldn’t have known what the Pro Bowl was back then,” Dickson said with a smile. “But if you said I’d be in the NFL, that was always the goal as well. I would have been happy but I wouldn’t have been too surprised.”
It should come as no surprise, then, that Dickson has registered a long this season of 69 yards, or that he has sent 26 punts inside the opponent’s 20, or that he’s the first Seahawks punter to be named to a Pro Bowl since Rick Tuten in 1994.
Still, Dickson’s apparent confidence isn’t permanent. Week after week, he proves to himself that he belongs.
“I was going into the game (last Sunday against San Francisco), looking at the weather app and saw that the winds were going to be 20 mph, and that’s always pretty hard as a specialist,” Dickson said. “I did punt well in those conditions.
“That’s the biggest thing for me, just to be able to prove to myself, ‘You can do it.’”
In his rookie season, Dickson has done it — over and over and over. He can’t tell you why he’s so good at punting.
But he knows that he’s had help.
“I’m really lucky to have the coaching staff that I have,” Dickson said. “For them to put all their trust in me and for me to really feel that, that trust and that confidence they have in me has definitely helped.
“Having a coach like (special teams coordinator Brian) Schneider, he’s just made me feel free out there, and that’s something you really need as a specialist. He’s had a massive impact on me for sure.”