Long Journey from Australian Could Bring Punter Sleep-Dalton to Iowa

January 23, 2019

Written by Rob Howe

The Hawkeyes are searching high and low for help. While their travels won’t take them all the way to Australia, they could fortify their roster with a native of the country.

Arizona State punter Michael Sleep-Dalton is planning to graduate this semester and then transfer for his final season of eligibility. The Iowa coaches are firmly involved.

“I’ve been in contact with (special teams) coach (LeVar) Woods. They are very interested in me,” Sleep-Dalton told HawkeyeNation.com.

Asked what other schools he’s considering, he told HN that he was “very, very happy with Iowa.”

He doesn’t appear to be looking anywhere else. If the Hawkeyes want him, he wants the Hawkeyes.

“I’m hoping to challenge myself with being able to kick in conditions like Iowa will face, being in a program where Coach (Kirk) Ferentz has built such amazing program and being coached by coaches like coach Woods who has seen first hand what it takes to play in the NFL. Also, the fan base Iowa has looks and seems amazing,” Sleep-Dalton said.

The Hawkeyes have struggled with consistency at punter the last two seasons. Woods has built a strong relationship with Sleep-Dalton.

“I really like coach Woods. He’s very relatable and knows what it takes to get from college to the next level. We get along very well,” he said.

Sleep-Dalton (6-2, 201) grew up playing Australian Rules football. His cousin, Cameron Johnston, was training before heading off to Ohio State and invited Sleep-Dalton to try it.

“I would go and have a kick with him,” he said.

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Johnston, the 2016 Big Ten Punter of the Year now with the Philadelphia Eagles, encouraged his relative to show off his skills for Nathan Chapman and John Smith at ProKick Australia.

“I went down to see them and got evaluated. They said I have real potential. That’s where it all started,” Sleep-Dalton said.

Playing high-level Australian Rules football prepared him for punting in American football.

“I played as a forward where my job was to kick it long and accurate, and that translates perfectly to punting. It just took a while perfecting the spiral. I’m still learning and improving,” he said.

He’s right-footed but capable of punting with either foot. He leans on rugby-style punting but can also hit them traditionally.

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Sleep-Dalton still is new to the game. He punted for one year the City College of San Francisco, a junior college program. He red shirted during his first season at Arizona State and has started the last two campaigns there.

As a sophomore, he averaged 39.9 yards per punt with nine punts of 50 yards or more, 17 punts putting opponents inside their 20 and 13 attempts that were fair caught. This fall, he averaged 43.8 yards per punt with 10 punts traveling 50 yards or more, 19 punts inside the 20 and 20 fair catches.

He tore a quad muscle before the start of his sophomore season, requiring to punt with his left leg for the first four games. That affected his average that year.

He’s looking to study Journalism or enter a management program for his graduate studies.

If and when Sleep-Dalton ends up at Iowa, he hopes to educate locals about some misconceptions regarding his home country.

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Here are his top three false stereotypes of Australia.

-“It’s not shrimp on the barbecue. We call them prawns.”

-“Not all our animals are dangerous. You never see them unless you go looking.”

-“Foster’s is not our No. 1 beer. That’s very false.”

Sleep-Dalton hasn’t spent much time in the Midwest outside of watching his cousin punt at Ohio State. He’s learned enough about it to know the climate will be much different than California and Arizona.

“I know it’s cold and the fans are die hard,” he said.

Playing for Iowa is too good of an opportunity to pass up.

“It’s just what the atmosphere of games is like, the level of competition and a chance to play and live in a different part of America that are really attractive,” Sleep-Dalton said.

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