From the football fields of Western Australia to the biggest stage in American sports, former WAFL reserves player Louis Hedley could be the most unlikely name read out during this year’s NFL draft.
This Mandurah scaffolder and former WAFL player with the Peel Thunder could be paid more than Fremantle superstar Nat Fyfe if he gets drafted by an NFL franchise this weekend.
Hedley’s leg is like a cannon, and his individual workouts with half-a-dozen teams have caught the attention of all 32 NFL franchises.
While most punters get their chance in the later rounds of the draft, only one or two lucky ones get picked each year.
The three-day NFL draft kicked off yesterday, and Hedley is hoping to hear his name called on Sunday AEST.
Western Australian former scaffolder Louis Hedley is highly recognisable with his trademark moustache and tattoos
He played a handful of games in the reserves for the Peel Thunder in the WAFL before deciding to have a crack at the NFL via college footy with the University of Miami
However not getting drafted would not be the end of the world. NFL teams only carry one punter in their squads so there is always opportunities for free agents when injuries or poor form strike.
The 29-year-old tradie-turned-punter has taken the well-trodden path from Australian football to punting, following in the footsteps of fellow Aussies such as Darren Bennett and Ben Graham.
Hedley made his debut for the Miami Hurricanes against the Florida Gators during a pre-season match in 2019, and he has already had a shout-out from global acting and wrestling megastar Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.
‘Thanks for rockin’ my #94 Lou Hedley,’ Johnson tweeted.
‘Look forward to that workout one day. In the meantime, welcome to the U, keep disrupting and always be the hardest worker in the (MF’n) room.’
The tweet that Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson posted to honour the Aussie who wore the same jersey as the Hollywood star at the same college
Hedley’s journey to the NFL has been a remarkable one. He did his time at junior college, then at the powerhouse University of Miami, where he’s raking in high-achievement education awards open to players across the country.
His unusual tattoos, massive frame, and superboot have made him an internet sensation.
ProKick Australia coach and close friend Nathan Chapman recalls an eager Hedley that was ready to ‘make a change,’ even if it meant flipping his life on its head.
‘When he came down we were like ‘OK, head-to-toe full of tattoos’, what have we got here?’ he told The West Australian.
‘But what turned up is a really genuine bloke who wanted to work hard and get back into education and go to uni, but also try the punting.
‘He just likes being around the boys, he’s good to chat with and got a real good level-head on his shoulders and a real clear focus on the punting.
‘He’s a real pleasure to deal with, he trained really hard, loved the gym and sunk his teeth into it.
‘He had to go to the junior college route first, which was a total change in what his lifestyle was, but he did his time there at San Fran City College… then we got Miami on the phone and they loved him.’
Hedley will be paying a keen eye on the NFL Draft after building his American Football abilities with University of Miami in the college system
Hedley is not only a unique sight for footy fans, he also loves a celebration. Pictured here celebrating a fourth down conversion against the Duke Blue Devils
Hedley played 18 games of reserves for Peel as a defender, where his massive kick was more than handy.
For Hedley, it all started with a few words from Peel Thunder teammate and former Carlton star Paul Bower.
‘He just said: ‘Man, you should really give this a shot. You’ve definitely got a future’,’ Hedley said.
‘He said the junior college part is pretty s***, but after that, it’ll all be worth it.’
The minimum salary for an NFL player is $750,000 USD, which is more than $1.1 million AUD and more than almost all AFL footballers.
Australians can watch the draft online through streaming services such as Kayo Sports or NFL Game Pass.