Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has turned out to be one of the biggest fans of a little-known Australian who is set to become one of the newest cult heroes in the NFL.
Lou Hedley, a former scaffolder from Mandurah in Western Australia who ten years ago was playing fullback for the Peel Thunder reserves in the WAFL, has become the NFL’s newest Australian after being picked up as a punter for the New Orleans Saints.
Hedley first came to Johnson’s attention when he joined the University of Miami in 2019, wearing jersey No. 94 – Johnson, before beginning his acting career or pursuing wrestling, was a defensive tackle wearing No. 94 for the Hurricanes between 1990 and 1994.
Johnson was signed briefly to the Calgary Stampeders in the Canadian Football League, but was cut two months into the 1995 season, prompting him to take up wrestling.
“Love seeing this,” Johnson wrote on Twitter in response to news that Hedley had signed an NFL deal.
“Congrats brother. Hardest workers in the room.”
Hedley, speaking to CODE Sports, has said he is ecstatic with the support.
“It’s just amazing,” Hedley said.
“Last night I was trying to go to sleep but at that time Australia was waking up, so I was able to speak to my family, friends and everyone who has been with me on this journey.”
Hedley left school in Year 11, and averaged 10.4 disposals out of the backline for Peel Thunder’s reserve side in 2013 before joining ProKick, an Australian-American company set up by former Brisbane and Hawthorn key defender aimed at taking advantage of the unique kicking abilities of Australian rules footballers, and getting Australians into the American football pathway.
The company’s recent success has inspired a number of Australian converts to the code, recently including former Rabbitoh Jordan Mailata who stars for the Philadelphia Eagles as an offensive tackle and former St Kilda key forward Arryn Siposs, who was not offered another contract for the upcoming season by the Eagles.
Hedley played one season of community college football for the City College of San Francisco in 2017, before signing on with the Miami Hurricanes at the University of Miami.
Playing all four years, he was named second-team All-ACC in 2020 and 2021, before being named first-team All-ACC in his final year.
After not being taken in the 2023 Draft, Hedley signed with the New Orleans Saints as an undrafted free agent, making the 90-man training camp squad before beating out incumbent punter Blake Gillikin, a former five-star high school recruit out of Georgia.