Hofrichter: Orange’s shining star in dull season

Syracuse senior punter Sterling Hofrichter kicks the ball during a recent game at the Carrier Dome. Rich Barnes/USA TODAY Sports

SYRACUSE — Sterling Hofrichter continues to shine throughout a largely disheartening season for the Syracuse University football team.

The redshirt senior punter and rare three-year SU football captain made his 46th consecutive start during the Orange’s 58-27 Atlantic Coast Conference setback against Boston College on Saturday at the Carrier Dome, and has solidified his standing as one of the top specialists in the country.

Earlier this week, Hofrichter was named one of 10 national finalists for the 2019 Senior CLASS Award, which is presented annually to a senior FBS player with “notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character, and competition.”

“There is literally no other place I’d rather be than at Syracuse,” Hofrichter said. “They gave me a chance when a lot of places didn’t, and I’m extremely grateful for Syracuse and spending five years of my life here. I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Hofrichter placed two of his four high-arching punts against the Eagles inside the 20-yard line and finished with an average of 48.5 yards per kick. His season mark of 45 yards per punt entering the game is on pace to top Sean Reali’s single-season record of 44.46 set in 1996, and Hofrichter’s career average of 43.3 ranks second in SU history.

Hofrichter — a two-time All-ACC selection and candidate for the Ray Guy Award presented to the nation’s top punter — leads the ACC in punts downed inside the opponent’s 20 with 23 this season. His efforts have helped SU to rank second nationally in net punting average (43.9).

“It’s the punt team first, working their butt off to get down the field and they’re doing really well,” said Hofrichter, a native of Valrico, Fla. “And for me, it’s just years of preparation. I’ve never wanted to be second at anything, always wanted to be first, so I just try to push myself to be the best I can be.”

Hofrichter was voted as one of four season captains by teammates prior to the Orange’s game against Pittsburgh on Oct. 18. He is just the third player in program history to hold the captain distinction for three straight seasons, joining linebacker Zaire Franklin (2015-17) and Robert Adams (1894-96).

He is one of five active FBS players and the only specialist to serve as team captain over three years.

The winner of the Senior CLASS Award — an acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School — will be announced in early January based off votes from FBS coaches, selected media, and fans online via SeniorCLASSAward.com.

Hofrichter, who has obtained his bachelor’s degree in health and exercise science and is pursuing a masters degree in public health at SU, is a frequent guest speaker at Onondaga County Justice Center and participates in the SU Fit Families program.

“It’s extremely special to me,” Hofrichter said of being named a finalist. “I’m proud to be included in a great group of guys, (and) it means a lot.”

LETTERWINNERS OF DISTINCTION

The 55th annual SU LetterWinner of Distinction ceremony was held Friday night at the Syracuse OnCenter and the five inductees were recognized with an on-field salute during the first quarter of Saturday’s game. Two honorees represented the football program: Rob Edson (1990, administrator) and Gordy Gronkowski (1982).

Edson, who was honored posthumously, worked for 20 years in athletic administration at his alma mater and as athletic director at Onondaga Community College. He was represented by his wife of 17 years and SU’s Executive Senior Associate AD/Chief Communications Officer, Sue Edson, along with their son, Thomas, and daughter Tracey.

Gronkowski was a standout offensive lineman at SU in the 1980s and the father of former New England Patriots star, Rob Gronkowski. The university also recognized Brad Kotz (lacrosse, 1985), Keri Potts (volleyball, 1998) and Sonny Spera (basketball, 1985).

AREA SCHOOLS REPRESENTED

Students from Carthage, Mexico, and Altmar-Parish-Williamstown were among the 400 high school band members that joined the SU marching band for its halftime performance on Saturday.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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