CHARLOTTE, N.C. ― He deftly sidestepped the conversational minefields Wednesday. Syracuse coach Dino Babers couldn’t be coaxed into discussing his team’s Week Three showdown with Clemson, and he politely tempered talk of his warp-speed offense.
But when it came to his punter, Babers pulled no pooches.
“Our punter is an NFL punter, write it down,” Babers said at the ACC Kickoff at The Westin Charlotte. “He will kick in the National Football League.”
If that prophecy plays out, the next Armwood High alumnus to reach the NFL will do it by virtue of a hang time instead of a 40 time. Former Hawks specialist Sterling Hofrichter, entering his senior year at Syracuse, could emerge as the country’s best punter this fall.
“Sterling can consistently punt the ball and hit the ceiling in our indoor (facility), and that’s pretty amazing,” Orange senior defensive end Kendall Coleman said. “It’s not something that every once in a while happens by chance. If Sterling wants to, he’ll be like, ‘Hey, watch this,’ and knock it off the top.”
But don’t just take Babers’ or Coleman’s word for it, look at the Hofrichter resume, which includes eight field goals, 61 PATs and a 40.1-yard punting average his senior year at Armwood in 2014.
A first-team All-ACC pick in ’18, he enters his final college season with a 42.9-yard career average. Fifty of his 201 punts have covered at least 50 yards, and 70 have been pinned inside the 20.
To boot, he also handled kickoffs last season, averaging 60.2 yards on 101 attempts for an Orange unit that ranked first in the conference in return-yardage defense (18.3 yards per return).
“Some of the biggest arguments I got into with (assistant) coaches last year was, ‘Let the guy punt,’” Babers said.
“They’d be like, ‘Well, we’re gonna rugby, we’re gonna do this, we’re gonna do that.’ We’re like, ‘The guy’s an NFL punter, let him just punt the ball.’”
Contact Joey Knight at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.