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Syracuse 2020 NFL Draft profile: Punter Sterling Hofrichter

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Punter U looks to add another Orange player to the league.

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NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

We have zero idea what’s going to happen to football this fall, but regardless of whether the season actually occurs or not, there’s going to be an NFL Draft next week (even if it happens with significant videoconferencing issues).

The Syracuse Orange football program hasn’t seen a ton of players selected in the draft lately, but that fact could change this year with four players attending the Scouting Combine. So while we didn’t love the results of this past season, getting a few more players into the NFL could be a positive conclusion that helps the program going forward, too.

Before the draft — scheduled for April 23-25 — we’re profiling all of the Syracuse players that warrant consideration to be picked (and some of those that appear likely to be undrafted free agent pick-ups).

We’ve already discussed Alton Robinson and Trishton Jackson. Today, it’s:

Name: Sterling Hofrichter

Position: Punter

Height: 5-foot-10

Weight: 196 lbs.

Hometown: Valrico, Fla.

NFL Draft Projections: Potential seventh round selection or will be a top undrafted free agent.

2019 Stats: Because our special teams are quite special, you can assume Hof had a solid year. He finished the season averaging 43.86 yards per punt, with a long of 65 yards and 29 kicks pinned inside the 20-yard line. He handled kickoff duties and hit a 52 yard field goal against Holy Cross.

Career Stats: Hof averaged 43.3 yards per punt, nailed an extra point and three of four field goals (including that 52-yarder), plus he also handled kickoffs. He notched six tackles and forced a fumble. Sterling’s strength was in his hangtime and ability to pin opponents back, however. He was one of the best in the country there, putting over 30 punts inside the 20 (and 11 inside the 10).

Game to Watch: He has quite a few winners, but last year’s Liberty game (six punts, averaging 49.2 yards per) is the best example of his punting ability.

Scouting Combine Performance:

Special-teamers don’t usually do much in the way of physical drills at the combine, and that was true of Hofrichter as well. Scouts saw him as a player with “below average” size, but did commend his strength and ability anyway. He’s seen as a practice squad player, but so are most kickers and punters. The fact that he can both punt and kick is a plus.

Scouts see him as a player likely to be a good backup with starter potential, so that’s another good sign for him with regard to getting drafted.

Pros

Went through most of them already. Hangtime and the subsequent ability to pin team back is worth a look from any team. Versatility means you get both a kicker and a punter in one roster spot.

Cons

I don’t think this is a con, but NFL teams probably do when they’re paying someone close to a million dollars: He doesn’t give up on coverage, and puts himself in harm’s way to stop returns. NFL teams probably have better punt coverage squads than SU, so perhaps tackling isn’t required much.

Fun Fact: Every time Sterling successfully follows through on a punt, his hand does the Vulcan salute from Star Trek. Through the athletic department, we asked if it was conscious and apparently it’s not.

TNIAAM Draft Prediction: If he’s picked at all, it’ll probably be in the seventh round — which is where fellow Orange alum Riley Dixon was picked by the Broncos back in 2016. The Cowboys, Buccaneers, Bears and Dolphins (and/or perhaps some others) could all probably use a new punter, so that’s promising. Maybe I’m just an optimist (in this case), but I think he gets picked.

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