September 20, 2002

Raising the Bar

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“He’s just one those guys that makes everyone around him better.”

It’s one of the classic lines about great players in sports. It’s an overused and undervalued description of a true team player who was born to lead others. It’s also what is said about Cornell fullback Nate Archer.

“He not only knows what he has to do, but what everyone else has to do as well,” said running backs coach Scott Walker.

“He’s the type of guy who sets goals for everyone on the team, helps us work through the obstacles, and says thank you when he’s done,” said head coach Tim Pendergast.

For these and other reasons, the senior was chosen as a 2002 captain.

Pendergast considers the New Fairfield, Conn. native the most talented fullback in the Ivy League. While never putting up huge total numbers for the Red — just 135 yards rushing and 130 receiving last season — Archer has excelled in his layman’s role of blocking. Evan Simmons’ ’02 600-yard, nine-touchdown season was a huge merit to the man opening space up front for him each and every snap last season.

“I really take pride in my blocking, and it’s great to team up with a guy like Evan and achieve things together,” Archer said of working with his former teammate.

Along with his skills as a blocker, the 6-1, 244 lb. fullback has excellent hands and power. He currently boasts a 3.9-yard per carry average — high for a halfback, let alone a fullback — and a 7.4 per reception average that rivals some of last year’s starting receivers.

“I suppose I might see more touches this year, but it’s really about improving the entire offense. That’s what I really aim to do each game,” said Archer.

Thus, sheer statistics, whether his own or those he’s blocking for, do not tell the Nate Archer story.

What does tell the Nate Archer story are the words those around him seem to echo when talking about the third year starter: Archer talks, and his teammates listen. Archer gives a little extra in the weight room, and his teammates respond by pushing themselves a little harder. Archer sits and studies game tape for hours in the offseason, and his teammates join him. That’s the sort of guy Archer has become here at Cornell.

Archer used to solely lead by example, but once he assumed the role of captain, his leadership style began to change. These days, Archer not only sets the standard for his teammates by working harder than anyone else on and off the field, he lets his teammates know when they’re falling behind.

“He’s definitely become more of a vocal presence in the locker room, which has really motivated certain guys to start working harder than ever,” said Walker.

One of those guys is sophomore Marcus Blanks, who worked with Archer in the off-season. Due in part to his progress with the senior, Blanks has claimed the starting tailback job.

That sort of leadership is the kind coaches most value in a captain, and it is just that sort of leadership Archer naturally offers a team.

“It’s like having another coach in the room all the time,” lauds Walker. “He can explain things that I’m saying in another way and guys suddenly get it. That’s a huge advantage for me.”

However, it’s not just his own position from which Archer demands respect. He is a team leader.

“Leaders have to take risks, they have to depend on those around them, and they have to be creative with what they do,” finished Pendergast. “Nate Archer embodies all of those things, he’s a pure team leader.”

“There are lot of eyes on me this year,” acknowledged Archer. “But I’m up for the challenge and plan on winning more games than anyone is predicting.”

Archived article by Scott Jones