MICHAEL Dickson, now the Seattle Seahawks' punter in the NFL, was formerly a member of the Sydney Swans' Academy.

Ryan Meskell, who is a placekicker for Hawaii's college football side, was listed with the Gold Coast Academy before heading to the US.

His teammate at Hawaii is Stan Gaudion, who was spotted taking the kickouts for Scotch College's football side in Melbourne.

These stories are unique – especially Dickson's phenomenal rise – but are becoming less so, and that could be even more the case in the AFL landscape post COVID-19.

Seattle Seahawks punter Michael Dickson and San Francisco 49er Mitch Wishnowsky pose for a photo after swapping jerseys in 2019. Picture: Getty Images

"If lists are cut back, you risk losing more players to other sports. There's no doubt about that," said one senior recruiter.

"Everyone knows about soccer, cricket and basketball, but there is a real pathway to get to the US now."

That pathway has been developed by former Brisbane and Hawthorn player turned NFL punter Nathan Chapman, who runs Melbourne-based punting program ProKick Australia.

Nathan Chapman in 2000 as a Hawk. Picture: AFL Photos

"This year alone we'll have between 70-80 current players [from Australia in the college and NFL system]," Chapman said.

"The numbers are more significant than people realise. They know there's a lot over there but the number jumps up pretty quickly."

There are four groups of footballers who use ProKick: those at the end of their AFL careers looking for another professional sport (former Saint Arryn Siposs falls into this category after recently signing with Detroit as a punter); those in the midst of their career interested in a change (ex-Tiger Ben Griffiths, now the punter at USC, fits in here); those who have missed out on being drafted by an AFL club and those who are coming through the football pathway but aren't yet eligible to be drafted.

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It is the final two groups which some experienced scouts believe will ramp up more if AFL list sizes, salary caps and draft picks are reduced as part of the coronavirus fallout.

The future of state leagues around the country, where prospects who are later developers or who had narrowly missed out being picked head to play, is also uncertain.

Essendon great Dustin Fletcher's son Mason trialed with ProKick last year having gone unselected in the AFL draft.

>> Scroll across to second video to see Mason Fletcher in action

Last week, Jesse Mirco, a former East Fremantle player, signed with Ohio State University as a punter, having not been deemed good enough for the AFL.

"Jesse's average crowd will be 105,000 people a week. He's a local Perth footballer, who's 23 and came over and trained with us and now he has a scholarship," Chapman said.

AFL scouts often assist in Chapman's program by referring him to prospects who are teetering on the edge of the draft pool, with some year 11 and 12 students having signed up for ProKick.

Their endgame is to follow the five current Australians who are punters with NFL sides: Dickson at Seattle, Cameron Johnston at Philadelphia, Mitch Wishnowsky at San Francisco, Jordan Berry at Pittsburgh and Siposs.

Former Saint Arryn Siposs in his Auburn Tigers gear ahead of the game against the Samford Bulldogs in November, 2019. Picture: Getty Images

Berry's father Jason worked at Collingwood and Essendon, and his brother, Wilson, who played for the Bombers' VFL side last year, has joined ProKick in the hope of emulating his efforts.

While the likes of Sav Rocca and Ben Graham paved the way for Australians in the NFL, Dickson's story is most symbolic of a choice that now exists for talented young athletes.

Ben Graham played for the New York Jets, New Orleans Saints, and Arizona Cardinals in the NFL

Dickson played for the Swans in their 2014 NEAFL Grand Final alongside current stars Isaac Heeney and Callum Mills. He was overlooked at the national and rookie drafts, and then started his passage to the United States via ProKick, before being signed by the University of Texas.

He spent a year there before nominating for the NFL Draft, where he was selected in the fifth round. Few will reach his level of success, but the 24-year-old has forged a path.

Another story is coming from underneath. Blake Hayes is the punter at the University of Illinois, and is considered a genuine chance to be drafted by an NFL team next year, such are his showings so far at college level.

His background? He played for the Sandringham Dragons in the NAB League, featured in Brighton Grammar's premierships at school level, and is a close friend of Essendon's No.1 pick Andrew McGrath.