After spending his high school career at tiny Sacred Heart in Hattiesburg and suiting up for Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College the last two seasons, Tyler Flathau signed with Arkansas State in November in hopes of becoming the Red Wolves’ new punter.
Fate will bring him back closer to home.
Flathau announced this week he is leaving Arkansas State to transfer to Southern Miss for the 2017 season.
“I just had some family issues going on at home,” he said Wednesday. “I felt like I needed to be home. I had an opportunity to make the switch and make that situation better. I just took it.”
Flathau, who will begin classes in Hattiesburg on May 30, said he was informed Monday by USM head coach Jay Hopson that he will be immediately eligible to compete for the starting job this fall.
“Coach Hopson told me that the first string coming out of fall camp will be put on scholarship,” he said.
Flathau’s arrival is good news for the Golden Eagles following a bumpy spring at punter with Parker Holland and Zac Everett sharing duties.
Flathau will have two years of eligibility remaining after averaging 40.4 yards on 44 punts last season for MGCCC.
“It’s almost surreal, coming back after leaving for a while,” he said. “I didn’t realize how much I missed Hattiesburg. It’s home for me. It’s definitely something I wanted to do. It didn’t feel right (in November), but I’m all for Southern Miss. I’m ready to put on for my hometown and play for the black and gold.”
Flathau, a lefty who averaged 38.3 yards a punt as a freshman at MGCCC, was named MaxPreps Small Schools First-Team All-American at Sacred Heart. He was also named Class 1A All-State by the Mississippi Association of Coaches after averaging 47.1 yards a punt as a senior.
Out of high school, he had a walk-on offer from Furman and some interest from Millsaps.
“I took (the MGCCC) offer and ran with it,” he said. “I loved that decision.”
Flathau, who had a 76-yard punt as a freshman at MGCCC, appears to be in good position to be the next starting punter for USM after gaining two years of experience on the junior college level.
“My goal is to start,” he said. “I have to go in with the mindset that the two other guys are the two best punters in the nation. The coaches don’t really know me so I want to put on a show and win the spot.”
If he wins the job, he should be versatile enough to meet whatever is demanded of him.
“I’m really good at Aussie kicks and pinning it inside the 10, getting good hang on it,” he said. “I have a good get-off time, catching it and kicking it.”
USM opens the 2017 season against Kentucky at 3 p.m. Sept. 2 in Hattiesburg.