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Thomas Morstead maintaining his love for punting in Miami
Miami Dolphins punter Thomas Morstead (4) punts the ball against the Minnesota Vikings during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. (Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports via Imagn Content Services, LLC)

Thomas Morstead maintaining his love for punting in Miami

MIAMI (BVM) — Thomas Morstead is one of the top punters in the NFL, but he didn’t become that overnight. It took a trip to a small English village and a lesson from his uncle to help him become the punter he is today. 

Visiting new places in the world can change one’s perspective quickly. It certainly changed for Morstead after he saw where his mother, Isobel, grew up. 

“It was very different,” Morstead said. “Where my family is from, it’s out in the country, and there’s maybe 100 people in the village. It’s part of my upbringing, and I’m grateful I was able to go experience something that was across the world that was different.” 

Morstead and his family have traveled to that village since he was born. On one visit, when he was around 11 years old, he received his first lesson on how to punt.

“I was a goalie playing soccer growing up,” Morstead said. “I would do the punt, pass and kick [competition] at our city park every year and try to advance in that. For some reason, I was always interested in it, and I’d practice out in my street; my first kind of coaching or legitimate instruction I ever got was from my uncle [Charles Salmon] in England.”

Morstead headed home with a new athletic ability and outlook on life. Growing up in Pearland, Texas, he’d use both to continue his passion for punting at Pearland High School

“I kind of grew up in a smaller town where I heard people talk about not being able to get out of the town,” Morstead said. “I never understood that; it was like you can go anywhere you want. It definitely provided some perspective growing up.” 

Morstead was eager to prove those people wrong as he began his prep career. He entered high school as a 5-foot, 90-pound freshman, but sprouted to 6-foot-4 and weighed 182 pounds as a senior. This led him to enroll at Southern Methodist University (SMU) after turning down offers from TCU, Texas, Rice and Missouri. 

Former SMU Mustangs kicker Thomas Morstead carries the ball.
Former SMU Mustangs kicker Thomas Morstead carries the ball for a first down after faking a punt during the first half against the Tulane Green Wave at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. (Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports via Imagn Sports Content Services, LLC)

He continued to work hard, and after redshirting his freshman year, Morstead took over placekicking and punting duties for the Mustangs in 2006. He went on to lead Conference USA with a 44.6-punt-yard average as a junior. He also had 57 punts that season, with 21 landing inside the 20-yard-line.

He entered the 2009 NFL Draft and was selected by the New Orleans Saints in the fifth round. Morstead won the starting role as a rookie and played a crucial role in the 2010 Super Bowl when the Saints decided to use an onside kick to open the second half.

“I pictured my coach who had passed away that year, that used to always say, ‘The most aggressive team normally wins,’” Morstead said. “I chuckled to myself, thinking, ‘This is pretty damn aggressive.’ Then I started thinking about all the times we ran it in practice and how every time coach called me up to it, I hit it exactly how I wanted to. By the time I went out there and started warming up, I was in a good mindset and was confident and was excited to run it.” 

Morstead’s career has still been successful following the championship season. He had stints with the New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons before signing a one-year deal with the Miami Dolphins in 2022. 

He’s sported No. 4 with the Dolphins, previously worn by legendary Dolphin punter Reggie Roby, during the 2022-23 season. 

“He was a great player,” Morstead said. “He’s a legendary player at the position, but it’s very cool to be wearing his number and I’m a big fan of the history of the game.”

Playing with the Dolphins has provided great opportunities and memories for Morstead. One of those memories was created in Week 3 against the Buffalo Bills when he punted a ball off Trent Sherfield and the “Butt Punt” was born.

“The punt I hit after the safety had a net average of 74 yards and landed on the 6-yard line,” Morstead said. “It was definitely a big adversity that happened, and the very next play hit the best kick of the game. I’m very proud I was able to overcome that on the very next play.”

Miami Dolphins punter Thomas Morstead.
Miami Dolphins punter Thomas Morstead (4) punts the ball into the backside of wide receiver Trent Sherfield (14) resulting in a safety for the Buffalo Bills during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. (Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports via Imagn Sports Content Services, LLC)

Morstead is also friends with former NFL punter and now internet sensation Pat McAfee. They’ve been friends for a while, but he still sees that relationship as a significant pillar for his success in the league. 

“We have a great relationship,” Morstead said. “We were drafted the same year, and we played against each other in the Super Bowl. I taught Pat how to punt the summer before our first training camp. He’s about as coordinated as a specialist as I’ve ever been around and credit to him for really figuring it out. We have a great relationship, and I’m proud to call him a friend.”

It’s evident that Morstead has put in the work to become the reliable player he is today. And even if it seems like he’s heading toward retirement, Morstead is going to carry a positive mindset as he continues to play in the NFL.

“For me, I have to think about that because at my age and at my position, they’re always looking to find the next young guy,” Morstead said. “From the standpoint of being a realist, that’s a reality that’s sometimes going to happen, but I’m not thinking about retiring. I love doing this job, and I want to keep going as long as I feel like I can provide value and be a good member of the team.”