As someone who plays with a chip on his shoulder after being passed up by several schools before being given a chance to play at Cornell, Nickolas Null continues to prove his doubters wrong on a weekly basis.
The Ivy League has crowned the Cornell football sophomore punter/kicker its Special Teams Player of the Week for the third-straight week thanks to his record-setting performance in the team’s disappointing 10-0 loss to Dartmouth on Saturday.
In the defeat, Null was called upon to punt 12 times, pinning the Dartmouth defense inside its own 20 yard line seven times, which broke the school record of six shared by three alumni, including All-American Chris Fraser ’17. But Null went a step further, booting all seven of these punts within the 15, including three inside the 10.
Five of Null’s punts in the game came in the third quarter alone, along with four of his seven punts inside the 20. All of these punts made it difficult for the Green’s offense to capitalize on stalled out Cornell drives, helping his defense keep the game within striking distance. Dartmouth’s average starting position was on its own 27.
The sophomore also had one kickoff, and he sent it out the back of the end zone to keep him a perfect 11-11 on kickoff touchbacks on the season.
The Cornell dual threat is the first Ivy Leaguer to earn weekly honors for three-straight weeks since Harvard’s Justice Shelton-Mosley was named Rookie of the Week four weeks in a row in 2015.
A pair of safeties join Null on the weekly honors, as senior captain Nick Gesualdi and sophomore Jelani Taylor were named to the Ancient Eight’s week eight honor roll.
The reigning Ivy Defensive Player of the Week, Gesualdi had nine total tackles against Dartmouth — five solo — to go along with two pass breakups. Most notably, at 2:24 of the second quarter, Gesualdi came up big to knock down a pass attempt on a big 3rd and 5 play to prevent the Green from continuing to roll into the Cornell end.
Taylor joined his position-mate with six tackles of his own — three solo — and four pass breakups — both of which are single-game career highs.
Senior Nick Gesualdi breaks up a third-down pass to force a Dartmouth punt. pic.twitter.com/7hTjIX7KBq
— Cornell On ILN (@CornellOnILN) November 4, 2017