New Arkansas Kicker Doesn’t Pull Punches about What Previous School Lacked

Scott Fountain, Matthew Shipley, Arkansas football, transfer portal
photo credit: Instagram/_matthewshipley

Kickers need love, too. Arkansas football fans know that better than anyone else. The fanbase watched as its once powerful offense was reduced to little more than the sheer power of Cam Little’s right leg kicking the football through the uprights on the way to a 4-8 finish.

With Little gone to the NFL Draft after three seasons, the Razorbacks were suddenly in the market for a kicker, and they found one about as far away from Fayetteville as one could go.

Hawaii transfer Matthew Shipley will be returning to the mainland and kicking under the bright lights of the SEC. Shipley, a native of Dallas, committed to the Razorbacks via the transfer portal and will take over kicking duties in 2024.

Brotherly Shenanigans

To understand Matthew Shipley, you must understand his twin brother Mason (Matthew is technically 20 minutes older), the kicker at Texas State. The two have each forged their own paths alongside each another to become 2023 Lou Groza Semifinalists, an honor given to the country’s top 20 kickers.

That means 10% of the semifinalists grew up under the same roof. It was the usual shenanigans one could expect with three boys in the house. Their older brother, Michael, also kicked at West Texas A&M in 2018. 

“Everything in life really is a competition for us two,” Mason Shipley said. “It could come down to just strictly drinking water, something stupid like that. We’re very competitive people and especially if it’s between each other. That’s kind of how we attacked it and had a lot of fun doing it that way.”

Both coming from a soccer background, the two brothers split kicking and holding duties for Liberty Hill High School after the football coach poached them off the soccer team when he needed a kicker. The Shipleys have a unique bond that only being twins can replicate. In high school, they took full advantage of looking exactly like each other during games. 

“The coach never knew which one of us was going out,” Matthew Shipley said. “It was kind of up to us because the football coaches didn’t really care. They trusted both of us. It was more like, ‘Do you want this kick or I’ll take it.’ We held for each other, too. They didn’t even know who was out there. We’d be watching film the next day and they would have no clue who kicked the ball.”

Matthew Shipley Heads to Hawaii

After high school, the two brothers took very different paths. Mason took a gap semester away from football while Matthew started as a true freshman. Four years later, both brothers are enjoying their own success. Matthew was a four-year starter at Hawaii and finished his career in the top five of the Rainbow Warriors’ all-time lists for both points scored and field goals made, including a 16-for-20 showing in 2023 before transferring to Arkansas.  

Mason took over this past season as the starter at Texas State after transferring from Oklahoma State, finishing his first year as a starter a perfect 15 for 15 in field goal attempts, setting a school record for most made field goals in a season. Matthew, meanwhile, capped off his four-year career at Hawaii with a career-long 52-yard field goal with a running clock on his final play as a Rainbow Warrior before getting carried to the sideline by his teammates in one of the wildest finishes of the college football calendar.

“One of our receivers caught the ball,” Matthew Shipley said. “I thought he made it out of bounds because the ref blew the clock dead. I jog out onto the field and then I see the ref start running the clock. I look over and there’s 6 seconds left. I knew I didn’t have time to take my steps. I just started sprinting over there. I was just yelling at my holder, ‘Just snap the ball! Just snap the ball!’ When I kicked it, I knew it was going to have a chance. It happened so fast, it’s hard to remember everything.”

Matthew Shipley Continues Career with Arkansas Football

Once the festive celebrations of senior night subsided, Matthew knew that hopping in the portal was the next step to getting to where he ultimately wanted to go, the same place that his predecessor at Arkansas is destined to go – the NFL. Although he enjoyed his time at Hawaii in the Mountain West Conference as part of the “Group of 5,” he knew that he had to spend his final year of eligibility elsewhere.

“One thing you could compare from Hawaii and Arkansas is in Hawaii you don’t get fed,” Matthew Shipley said. “They lack resources, they didn’t even have their own Pro Day.” 

Pretty direct assessment right there. It’s also a poignant reminder that in a world with crazy NIL offers flying left, right and center, basic facilities and good coaching still play a pivotal role in recruiting both the transfer portal and high school ranks. After all, it’s hard to get food out to Hawaii. Matthew knows he’ll get plenty of that here at Arkansas. 

“What I want out of this transferring experience is more experience from coaches like coach (Scott) Fountain,” Matthew Shipley said. “He has a very good track record for kickers in the NFL. Also, the resources to strengthen my body to where it needs to be.” 

With the kicker position up for grabs at Arkansas, Matthew sees this as the perfect opportunity to take the next step for his own path to the big show. The chance to start right away was a main reason behind him choosing Hawaii in the first place and it’s much the same this time around.

“I really wanted to go to an SEC school,” Matthew Shipley said. “Somewhere with a lot of recognition. I liked Arkansas. I did my research and especially with Cam Little (who also was a Lou Groza semifinalist) leaving, it just felt like a great fit for me. I went on an official visit and fell in love with the place and everything it had to offer.”

A Helpful Resource

As Matthew was deciding where to go, he had a very helpful resource in Mason who had already been through the transfer portal once, going from Oklahoma State to Texas State.

Through it all, the brothers have never lost their support for each other. 

“We’re on the phone every day,” Mason Shipley said. “Probably some of the closest twins you’ve ever seen. A lot of people would say that if we switch spots, nobody would know. That’s how close and alike we are. People have told me our demeanor and how we talk is the same, which I thought was pretty funny.” 

At this point, I had to stop the interview and double-check which twin had got on the line with me. Similarities aside, there is an overwhelming sense of pride they have for one another’s success. 

“He’s worked really hard for what he’s accomplished,” Matthew Shipley said of his brother. “His journey has been a bit more difficult than mine. He’s earned everything he’s got. We’re both really proud of each other and want the best for each other.”

As Matthew embarks on kicking on his biggest stage yet – as a kicker in the SEC following one of the best kickers in Razorback history – his brother made sure to remind him of one thing:

“I would like to think that it’s me,” Mason Shipley said when asked who the favorite is. “Everybody knows the youngest is generally the favorite and the middle child is the problem child.” 

Matthew, for his part, fired right back at his brother.

“Our parents don’t tell us if there is a favorite,” Matthew Shipley said. “I’d like to say it’s me.”

Matthew Shipley (far right) with the rest of his family, including twin brother Mason (36). (photo courtesy Matthew Shipley)

Arkansas Football Transfer Portal Commits

  • OL Keyshawn Blackstock – Michigan State
  • TE Andreas Paaske – Eastern Michigan
  • QB Taylen Green – Boise State
  • DB Doneiko Slaughter – Tennessee
  • OL Fernando Carmona – San Jose State
  • K Matthew Shipley – Hawaii
  • OL Addison Nichols – Tennessee
  • LB Xavian Sorey Jr. – Georgia
  • WR Jordan Anthony – Texas A&M
  • DB Marquise Robinson – South Alabama
  • RB Ja’Quinden Jackson – Utah
  • DE Anton Juncaj – Albany

For more on a new Arkansas football transfer, go here:

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