BRENDAN FULMER - STILL A STAR
- Report by BIGeorge of the Vermont Sports Desk -
 
Middlebury, VT - Former #80 for the LeRoy Oatkan Knights is this year's #80 for the Williams College Ephs football team (pronounced EEEfs - named after school founder Colonel Ephraim). Brendan Fulmer plays for this college nestled in the Berkshire Mountains in northwestern Massachusetts as a wide receiver and kicker.

I caught up with Brendan last week in Vermont as the Middlebury Tigers played Williams in a Division III matchup. Brendan had a great first half for the Purple Cows (yes, that's their mascot), kicking two 29-yard field goals, receiving a 36-yard TD strike, and throwing an option pass for a 16-yd score. Truly a triple threat!

Second half torrential rains kept the ball on the ground and away from Brendan as the Ephs won 39 - 18. LeRoyans will be happy to know that Brendan continues to "boom" his kicks deep into the opposing teams' end zone on kickoffs and has one of the best punting averages in the league. When asked what the major difference between high school and college football is he states "it's so much faster in college."

Brendan continues to follow LeRoy football and wishes this year's team all the best in the playoffs. His parents, sister, and brother (from the famed 1995 LHS Knight team) were in attendance in Middlebury last Saturday. We here at leroyfootball.com and all of LeRoy are extremely proud of Brendan and wish him continued success in his collegiate endeavors.

George Henry - Vermont Sports Desk for leroyfootball.com
 
This column originally appeared in the Sunday, October 16th edition of the Berkshire Eagle.

Ephs' Fulmer a throwback to another era By Howard Herman

WILLIAMSTOWN -- In an era of specialization, Williams College football player Brendan Fulmer is a throwback. Fulmer, a junior, is a starting wide receiver for Mike Whalen's Ephs - and he also handles the punting and place-kicking chores.

"Whatever gets me on the field the most, I'm OK with that," Fulmer said with a smile. Not only is he on the field a lot, Fulmer is one of the top punters in the nation. Going into yesterday's game at Middlebury, Fulmer had punted 17 times for a 42.9 average. For the record, that's sixth best in Division 3 football. The leader is Coast Guard's Jesse Harris with a 43.9 average. Fulmer's average would place him 24th in Division 1, tied with Pitt's Adam Graessle. As of Friday, Fulmer had only caught nine passes for 78 yards, second on the team behind Jon Drenckhahn.

"I think the punting kind of comes naturally," Fulmer said last week. "Place-kicking is a little difficult. I'm not quite as natural at that. It takes a little more work. "Catching (the ball), that's the fun part." So this makes for a pretty busy day for the 6-foot-6 native of Leroy, N.Y. However, it is something Fulmer is used to. "In high school, I played safety on defense, played receiver and did all the kicking, so I was always out there," he said. "I really think that prepared me for the college level. It doesn't happen too many times where you have a position player doing the kicking too."

That being on the field all the time cost Fulmer his punting job last year. He had 16 punts for a 38-yard average before losing his slot to Drenckhahn. It came during last year's Trinity game at Weston Field. Fulmer had one kick blocked and one punt travel less than 20 yards. But in hindsight, Whalen said the coaching staff needed to take some of the blame for Fulmer's inability to kick - because you just can't send a receiver 40 yards downfield on a pass play, only to have him sprint 40 yards back to the line of scrimmage and then punt the ball.

"We just can't take him off the field and say you're going to be our kicker, because he's too big of an asset and a weapon as a receiver," said the Eph head coach. "Last year was the first time he was out there as a full-time receiver as well as being a full-time kicker. We needed to be aware of what he was doing the play before he was asked to kick." You might think that getting pulled from punting would have caused Fulmer's confidence to waver. You'd be wrong. "I've always known that I've had the ability. As long as I have the focus and concentration, I feel I can do the job," said Fulmer. "I found last year, I kind of hurried into things," he continued. "This year, when I change over, I'm running a pattern on third down and all of a sudden I have to punt - I set myself for a second and focus. I need to concentrate on hitting the ball solidly." And Fulmer has done that exceptionally well this season. Take last week's game against Bates. In a driving rainstorm, Fulmer had to punt nine times and averaged 42.9 yards per kick - nearly 12 yards longer than Bates punter Tyler Schmelz. Fulmer also dropped three of his nine punts inside the Bobcat 20. "The first three punts of that game, we were inside the 50 and obviously, I'm not going to try to boom one because it won't do anything for the net (average)," he said.

Fulmer has a great leg, and has kicked one 56 yards this year. But he also has a 41.1-yard net punting average, meaning on average, Williams' opponents gain about a yard from where the punt lands. "It's always fun to get a hold of one and send it 50 yards. It's also just as much fun to knock one inside the 10-yard line and really put the pressure on the opposing offense," he said. So, while Fulmer has gotten untracked in the punting and kicking game (he has hit on a 37-yard field goal and missed from 33), he still needs to get untracked on offense. While Fulmer had one of two TD passes, Drenckhahn had caught 18 passes to lead the team.

"Coming into the season, people looked for ways to defend Brendan and Jon got caught in some single coverage," said Whalen. "I think now that Jon has been the focal point, maybe (opponents) will move the coverage the other way and that will free up Brendan. He has big play capabilities." Oh yeah, as a throwback kind of player, Fulmer may have to stick his nose in and make some tackles on special teams. How many times do you see a kicker or punter blasted by a blocker, or a punter just pushing a guy out of bounds? Fulmer won't have to do that.

"Luckily, I haven't had to make (tackles) yet," he said. "Since I played defense in high school and have always been on special teams, I feel like I'm just as capable of making a tackle as anyone else."