Aztec Matt Araiza in San Diego State’s September win over Utah. Photo credit: Derrick Tuskan, via goaztecs.com

San Diego State’s Matt Araiza received a national honor this week, as he was named an ESPN Midseason All-American.

Araiza, the only Mountain West player to be chosen, filled the punter slot on the 24-member team.

Going into Saturday’s win against San Jose State, the junior had punted 33 times for 1,784 yards and a 54.1 average.

The Rancho Bernardo High alum’s average is 3.08 yards ahead of the NCAA record of 50.98 set by Texas A&M’s Braden Mann in 2018.

He also led the nation in punt average and punt yards per game (356.80), and ranks second in punt yards (1,784), fifth in net punt average (44.76) and sixth in punts per game (6.60, second in Mountain West).

ESPN noted that “Araiza has been a field-position weapon for the unbeaten Aztecs through five games.” (They improved to 6-0 with the San Jose State victory.)

Araiza, one of four players in the country handling punting, kicking field goals and kicking off, also has made all 23 of his PATs and is 5-for-8 in field-goal attempts.

He also has kicked off 31 times for 2,013 yards, along with 24 touchbacks.

In addition, Araiza leads the special teams unit with four tackles and two on the kick return unit, and is tied for first in tackles on the punt return unit with two.

Coach Brady Hoke said he could see Araiza landing in the NFL as a punter. Linebacker Caden McDonald called his teammate “a true weapon.”

“We don’t like to punt, but when we do we know we’re in good hands because Matt’s going
to punt it like 60 yards and going to run down and tackle them,” he said.

ESPN’s All-Americans represent 20 schools. Alabama tops the list with three selections. Drake London, a USC wide receiver, was the only other California player on the list.

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