The Falcons have been more or less set at punter since they drafted Matt Bosher out of Miami in the 6th round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Bosher became a fan favorite during his 9 years with the Falcons, showcasing his bionic right leg and backing up William Moore and Keanu Neal at strong safety. But this is a business, and Bosher’s time in Atlanta has come to an end.
Enter Sterling Hofrichter, the Falcons’ 7th round selection out of Syracuse. Hofrichter seemingly has the inside track and should be able to fend off veteran punter Ryan Allen, who averaged a career-low 41.9 yards/punt in 2019, if all goes according to plan. Hofrichter earned a combine invite, punting and placekicking for scouts. According to Hofrichter, the Falcons reached out to him early and often leading up to the draft.
Hofrichter started a whopping 49 games at Syracuse, handling punting duties for 4 years and kickoff duties for 2 years. He was nominated for the Ray Guy Award (best college punter in the country) 4 times, and as a senior, he was one of three finalists. He also landed on the All-America teams of various outlets and earned All-ACC honors 3 times. He averaged 43.2 yards/punt at Syracuse, racking up 11,651 punting yards (16th in the NCAA since 2000). During his redshirt junior and senior campaigns at Syracuse, Hofrichter averaged a solid touchback rate of 62 percent.
It’s with noting that Syracuse was forced to use Hofrichter on field goal attempts 4 times during his collegiate career. And to his credit, he converted all but one, including a 52-yarder. If there’s one thing that’s undeniable about Hofrichter’s skillset, it’s his versatility. The kid can punt, handle kick offs, and place kick in a pinch.
Pro Football Focus put Hofrichter on their All-ACC team in December, offering this rave review:
Hofrichter finishes not only as the nation’s highest-graded punter but as one of the nation’s best at pinning opponent’s deep in their own territory, as well. He allowed just 13 yards on punt returns all year long as just 10 of them were even attempted to be returned, and he pinned opponents inside the 20 on 30 of his 69 total punts this season. His net punt average nearly reached his total punt average, with the latter mark of 43.7 yards being the country’s top figure among qualified punters. Hofrichter utilized his strong leg to become a vital part of Syracuse’s special teams, and he averaged the country’s best average hangtime at 4.50 seconds in 2019.
At 5’10, 196 pounds, Hofrichter is considered “undersized.” (Matt Bosher is 2 inches taller, for what it’s worth.) But what Hofrichter lacks in size, he may make up for with tenacity. Hofrichter has a reputation as a willing, aggressive tackler, with some scouts suggesting his durability will be an issue at the next level if he can’t learn to avoid big hits.
Your thoughts about the Falcons’ shiny new punter, Falcoholics?