PITTSFORD, N.Y. (WROC) — After a record-breaking college career, the “Punt God” Matt Araiza is now looking to make a new name for himself as the Bills punter.
“It’s always been a dream since I was a kid and I always knew that when you make it to the NFL it’s a competition,” said Araiza.
His competition is the incumbent Matt Haack and Araiza isn’t far removed from his last camp battle. Recruited as both a kicker and punter, it wasn’t until his final season with the Aztecs that he earned the punting duties.
“There wasn’t a single year at San Diego State that a job was given to me,” said Araiza. “Competition is something that I’m used to and definitely ready for and I’m just ready to go out there and do my best.”
Since he was the kicker in college, holding is one of the biggest concerns for Araiza as he never did it before this year. But that also gives him an advantage.
“I kind of understand what a kicker wants,” said Araiza. “I’ve been in their shoes and I understand the importance of holding so it’s somewhat of a natural progression.”
As the two Matt’s battle it out, special teams coordinator Matthew Smiley has been impressed with how receptive Haack has been. He’s answered Araiza’s questions and has been giving him advice on how to pave a successful NFL career. Haack’s birthday was earlier this week on Monday and Smiley made sure to write about it in his birthday card.
“I can’t speak enough to the type of human being it takes to know you are fighting for your job and you’re still willing to do the right thing when it comes to interacting with somebody,” said Smiley.
As the 4th specialist drafted and the only one still fighting for his job, Araiza says he doesn’t feel pressure to live up to his divine nickname.
“This year is more about proving people wrong than proving people right.”