This is part of The Sun’s position-by-position preview of the 2017 Cornell football team. For a preview of each position, click here.
It is hard to talk about Cornell football special teams without the name Chris Fraser finding its way into the conversation.
Fraser, who flirted with some NFL teams this summer, was a staple of the team throughout his four years, earning praise from his coach as the “best punter in the country” en route to becoming the first in program history to earn All-Ivy first team honors each of his four seasons.
Sophomore Nickolas Null will try his best to be the next Fraser, earning the punting job after he did “an incredible job of learning how to punt this offseason,” said Head Coach David Archer ’05. While Null has never punted in a collegiate game, he seems to have the chops, evident by a booming 76-yard boot when he was in high school.
But his versatility is what Archer said he likes most. Last season, Null served as the team’s kickoff specialist and also saw time at field goals and point afters.
Joining Null is junior Zach Mays, back as the field goal specialist. The Las Vegas native is fresh off a sophomore season where he lead the Ivy League in points per game with 7.3, touchbacks with 12 and kickoff average with 63.5 yards per kick.
Since Null can largely act as Mays’ backup, the versatility of the two allows the team to open up another spot on the travel roster.
“With two guys who can create so much depth, you actually create a travel spot,” Archer said.
Getting the ball to these two will be senior long-snapper Mac Pope, who Archer says is “phenomenal.” Pope, who also rotates into the fullback and tight-end positions, has been dealing with shoulder difficulties, and Archer said the team will monitor as necessary.
Sophomore Ethan Agritelley freshman Garrett Patla will serve as understudies to Null and Mays, and rounding out the special teams units will be mostly freshmen and sophomores getting some of their first in-game experience.
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