By JOON LEE
There’s a certain feeling for junior punter Chris Fraser that comes over him when he is backed up in his own end zone and the Red are forced to punt. The fate of Cornell defensive success oftentimes falls heavily on his right foot and how far back he is able to pin down the opposing team’s offense.
“When you’re backed up, they’re going to want to try and get a block on you,” Fraser said. “It’s a mix of adrenaline and knowing that I really have to flip the field is the mentality that I have when I approach that”
Despite the Red’s blowout 40-3 loss against Harvard on Saturday at Schoellkopf, Fraser shined on national television as one of the players to look out for at the next level. Twice backed into his own end zone, Fraser managed to get off kicks of 67 and 65 yards, distances that would place him among the top-10 punters in the NFL and top-20 among all NCAA punters in the FBS.
“He’s clearly the best punter in the league,” said head coach David Archer. “One of the tops in the country.”
Chris Fraser: Good at punting. 67-yard bomb of a kick against Harvard. pic.twitter.com/W4phMMCkTT
— Full Court Press (@DailySunFCP) October 10, 2015
Fraser, who plays a position that any football team hopes to see on the field as infrequently as possible, manages to draw a reaction from head coach David Archer that only one player has brought out before.
“There’s sometimes where that ball jumps off his football and I’m like, ‘Wow,'” Archer said. “It reminds me watching [Jeff Mathews ’13] throw it.”
On a team full of players that will likely finish their football careers after their final snap as a senior, Fraser stands out in more ways than one. Fraser often practices his punts by himself on the sidelines during practice, plays a position that is often overlooked by the average spectator at Schoellkopf and, yet, represents the player who holds the highest chance of playing at the next level.
What sticks out most about Fraser — the first Cornellian to earn first-team All-Ivy honors in consecutive seasons since Kevin Boothe ’05 and the first to do so as freshman and sophomore — to Archer is the punter’s continued commitment to improvement.
“He’s got aspirations beyond Saturday, so it’ll be fun to work with him the next year and a half,” Archer said.
Against Harvard, Fraser averaged 52.4 yards per punt, a number that would place him atop all punters in college football and 0.3 yards shy of Andy Lee, who is the top net-average punter in the NFL for the Cleveland Browns. Fraser, who plans to graduate a semester early during his senior year in order to move to California to train for a potential shot at the NFL, spreads around credit for the success he brings to the Red special teams unit.
“It’s obviously a testament to the coaching and the blocking,” Fraser said. “I know they don’t talk about the linebacker much, but [sophomore long snapper] Mac Pope has been really solid this year and has been really helping me out. I tried to help the team as best as I can and put us in a situation to win and make stops and that’s what I try to do my best.”