IN the lives of most athletes there are standout games, career-defining games and, for some, ones that are life-changing.
Former Sydney Swans Academy player Michael Dickson recently produced the latter when he helped the Texas Longhorns to victory over Missouri in the Texas Bowl.
In the process he has delivered one of the best NFL auditions in the history of College Football.
The mega American sports blog SB Nation even compared his effort to the night Michael Jordan changed the direction of basketball when he dropped six first-half three-pointers in game one of the 1992 NBA Finals against Portland.
Yes, he is being compared to Michael Jordan.
The figures that did it for Dickson were his 11 punts for 452 yards in the Texas Bowl.
But it wasn’t so much the distance he covered, it was where and how they landed that counted.
Eight of his punts finished inside the 10-yard line, four of those inside the five.
Dickson’s rare performance earned him the first MVP for a punter in the past 10 years of College Bowl Football.
It was only the second MVP for a punter in the history of Bowl Football.
“I went into the game knowing it was going to be my last as a Longhorn, so it meant a lot to me,” Dickson said.
“If we won this game it was going to mean a lot for momentum going into the next season because we got a new coaching staff.
“I wanted to enjoy my last game and I wanted to perform. Eleven punts was a lot, about double what you would normally get.”
SB Nation’s Bill Connelly described it as “the best game by a punter in the last 10 years, and it may not even be close”.
For Dickson, it was all about the process.
“I tried to pin them deep,” Dickson said.
“It wasn’t just the long ones, I wanted them close to the end zone without getting a touch back.
“I had one on the two-yard line, one on the three and one on the four. I had four inside the five.
“For those close ones I use an Aussie rules drop punt which can spin back a little bit.”
Growing up in the Sutherland Shire, Dickson made his start as a soccer player before switching to Aussie rules at the age of 12.
— Texas Football (@TexasFootball) December 28, 2017
ICYMI: Texas punter Michael Dickson (@mdcksn) became just the second punter ever to win a bowl game MVP award.
— Andrew Kauffman (@AndrewABC17) December 29, 2017
He was good enough to earn a spot in the Sydney Swans Academy playing alongside AFL star Isaac Heeney.
“What a legend Michael is,” Heeney said.
“We spent the first three years together and played a heap of games alongside each other. He played in the backline and took the kick-ins.
“He had a monster of a kick and would launch the occasional torpedo which would go half the length of the field. He looked like an NFL punter then and he was accurate as well as being a thumping kick with his right boot.”
Dickson has broken with protocol for most punters by declaring for the NFL draft before his senior year.
“It was a tough decision and it’s risky to declare early but everything felt just right,” Dickson said.
“I made the decision before the Bowl game and then, winning the MVP, everything felt right.”
Dickson will go to the draft as the holder of the Ray Guy Award for the best punter in College Football.
He is another product of former AFL player Nathan Chapman’s ProKick.
“He’s now in the shop window,” Chapman said.
“It certainly lends itself to coming out of college early and he has a shot at the NFL.
“He has the momentum, so it’s probably a good idea to declare for the draft.”