Matthew Hayball has a year to remember

MVPs: Defensive MVP Linebacker Rashad Smith, Offensive MVP Chris, and Special Teams MVP Punter Matthew Hayball.
MVPs: Defensive MVP Linebacker Rashad Smith, Offensive MVP Chris, and Special Teams MVP Punter Matthew Hayball.

Port Pirie born Matthew Hayball has taken home a slew of awards and commendations in just his first year playing American Football at Florida Atlantic University (FAU).

With a Most Valuable Player (MVP) trophy, selection in the All-American Freshman Team of the Year and a bowl championship under his belt, Hayball has had an impressive first season.

The 22 year-old former Geelong footballer made the transition from AFL to American Football as a punter last year and has not looked back.

He was also chosen in the Conference USA 2019 All-Freshman football team as determined by the league's 14 head football coaches.

Matthew Hayball's personal success has been matched with his team's success, with FAU winning the Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl late last year in which Hayball was named the Special Teams MVP.

Hayball's father Geoff said his son was happy with his first year but felt he could improve further.

"He's not about to go around pumping his chest or anything like that - but he's obviously extremely happy," Geoff said.

"He said, 'I'm really pleased that I've had a good year but I just feel I can do so much better because I was just so inconsistent. I fluffed too many'."

"He's good level headered - certainly not a big-head"

"..because the minute you think you've made it you're going to fail aren't you."

Yet, Hayball's statistics speak for themselves.

He ended the season with the most 'inside 20s', 3rd longest kick average, his 77 yard punt was a FAU record and he came second overall for longest punt.

Hayball will continue with FAU for the next two years as he completes his scholarship and academic degree.

From there, Geoff explained that his son was chasing a dream of playing in the NFL.

"That's the whole aim of it is to go over and get a degree with the real added goal of being drafted to the NFL. It's a really big, big dream but he has given himself the best opportunity."

Matthew Hayball, who was born in Pirie, but played junior football in Roxby Downs, was picked up by Geelong at the end of 2015 and played three seasons with the club.

As his AFL career was wrapping up in 2018, Hayball was scouted by Prokick Australia, an organisation that identifies and trains Australian athletes to perform at the College/NFL level, particularly as punters.