'He is a problem': America in frenzy over son of former AFL star

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·Sports Reporter
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Blue Smith of the Cincinnati Bearcats and Mason Fletcher of the Cincinnati Bearcats react after losing to the Alabama Crimson Tide 27-6 in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic for the College Football Playoff semifinal game at AT&T Stadium.
Mason Fletcher has US college football fans in a frenzy during the College Football Playoff semi-final. Pic: Getty

There’s no disputing his father is an AFL legend, but Mason Fletcher may have eclipsed his old man’s status as a cult-hero following a breakout performance in one of American college football’s biggest games.

The Australian punter is the son of former Essendon Bomber Dustin Fletcher, who played 400 games and won two premierships during a glittering 23-year AFL career.

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Despite his impressive list of accolades, Dustin never had the United States buzzing quite like his son Mason did on Saturday.

Suiting up for the University of Cincinnati Bearcats against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the semi-final of the College Football Playoff, the 21-year-old Fletcher set fans into a frenzy online after unleashing a 54-yard punt that pinned Alabama on their own 8-yard line.

Fletcher celebrated the bomb by marching downfield while doing the ‘billionaire strut’ - ala UFC superstar Conor McGregor.

Fletcher was in the thick of the action again a short time later, when he got tangled up in a pile after another booming punt which nearly forced a turnover.

The drama had popular US talk show host and former NFL punter Pat McAfee singing Fletcher’s praises on Twitter.

“Fletcher hits the billy strut after a 54-yarder and now he’s getting picked up and tossed around,” McAfee said in a hilarious video.

“Almost caused a turnover, getting in the heads of every Alabama player. Mason Fletcher crushing the Bama boys!

“Listen, people were talking about his arm size. Bad angle, he’s got f***ing pipes dude, pipes! Look at that, look at that flow, hitting bombs, causing turnovers, hitting the billy strutt, flexing those f***ing 15-inch pythons.

“Mason Fletcher’s a problem dude. Good luck (Alabama coach Nick) Saban. You were preparing for (Cincinnati quarterback) Desmond (Ridder), prepare for Mason Fletcher. It’s impossible.”

McAfee wasn’t the only one caught up in Fletcher-mania, with others calling him the ‘MVP’ of the game.

The wiry 6’7” Australian even drew a hilarious comparison to NBA star Kevin Durant, who is sometimes referred to as the ‘Slim Reaper’ by fans.

A mammoth TV audience of 19 million viewers tuned in to the game, but despite Fletcher’s heroics, Cincinnati were defeated 27-6 by Alabama.

Australians making a name for themselves in American football

Alabama also featured an Australian punter in the form of James Burnip, who now has the opportunity to compete for the College Football National Championship, with his Crimson Tide set to take on the Georgia Bulldogs for the title on January 11 (AEDT).

Fletcher and Burnip are both products of the Prokick Australia kicking and punting academy.

Fletcher’s younger brother Max is also a graduate of the academy and has been awarded a scholarship to attend the University of Arkansas next season.

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