Sarah Fuller Deserved Her Feat
By Geoff Schwartz
FOX Sports analyst
Vanderbilt’s Sarah Fuller became the first woman to score in a Power 5 football game Saturday, when she converted on the first of two successful point-after attempts during the Commodores' 42-17 loss to Tennessee.
If you recall, Fuller made history two weeks ago when she joined the Vanderbilt football team on short-notice to become their emergency kicker because of COVD-19 roster issues.
Because of the ineptitude of the Commodores offense in a 41-0 loss at Missouri on Nov. 28, she only took the field for the second-half kickoff. Vanderbilt didn’t score and couldn’t even get into field-goal range in the entire game.
This story should be celebrated for what it is.
Sarah Fuller made history in this unique season. There’s a low probability this will happen again soon.
Vandy needed help two weeks ago when its entire place-kicking unit wasn’t able to play for COVID reasons.
As a senior goalkeeper on the Commodores' SEC champion women's soccer team, Fuller was the best option on short notice. First, and this is important, she had been in COVID protocols and had been tested regularly.
Sarah Fuller put her name into the record books by becoming the first woman to score in a Power 5 college football game.
Vanderbilt attempted to find a kicker on its roster, but according to its special teams coach, it did not go well. That is no surprise. It’s not easy to kick a football through the uprights, no matter what the Twitter “experts” say.
Well, just use the punter, the "coaches" on social media say. There’s a reason punters don’t often place-kick. It’s a much different style of kick. With Vandy already down several specialists, the Commodores hardly want to risk their punter getting injured by attempting a place-kick.
Without a men’s soccer team, Vanderbilt reached out to Fuller. She accepted the offer, went to practice and worked for her chance.
Fuller's historic achievement was clearly a hit with her teammates, who wildly celebrated her first extra point.
Her one opportunity to kick in her first game was just that lone kickoff, which she squibbed, exactly as she was coached to do.
And guess what, folks? If this was a male soccer player, or the backup wide receiver kicking, they would have asked that player to do the same thing.
The idea that Fuller was asked to do something different because she was just a PR stunt is complete garbage. This is exactly what someone with no kickoff experience would be asked to do. It’s safe, repeatable and it avoids her getting blocked or having to attempt to tackle, which would not be ideal.
Fast-forward two weeks, and Fuller ran onto the field to attempt the first point-after attempt following a Vanderbilt touchdown in the first quarter. She nailed it.
It was a truly awesome moment.
Fuller did her job. Later in the game, she made her second PAT. In between those two attempts, Vanderbilt used a different kicker to attempt longer field goals, which is something teams do employ, especially in college. A short kicker and a long-range kicker.
All this seemed to be lost again on the Twitter "braintrust."
How dare Vanderbilt reward Fuller with point-after attempts because she helped them out two weekends ago. The horror!
This is all the story is. Sarah Fuller helped out the Commodores two weeks ago, so they rewarded her hard work today. Good for both parties.
I’d like to end with two more points. First, this line “best player for the position” that critics like to cite to discredit Fuller's accomplishment is complete trash.
What fantasy world do you live in, where the best player for the position takes every snap in every game? And, Fuller made both kicks, so it appears she was the best player for the position.
What about the senior who starts on senior night for the first time? Let me guess ... they put in the work, so it’s fine.
Well, so did Sarah Fuller. She put in the work in her short time on the team. She didn’t just walk off the soccer field, never practice with the football squad, take the job from another player, and then kick in the games.
And lastly -- and please listen to this -- as a former player, I didn’t care who my teammates were as long as they could help us win a game. That’s it.
Based on her performance on her three kicks this season, Sarah Fuller was able to help Vanderbilt.
If you saw the reaction from her teammates after her historic kick, they truly believed this was a special moment and were proud of her accomplishments.
If you don't see that for what it is, that's on you.
Geoff Schwartz played nine seasons in the NFL for five different teams. He started at right tackle for the University of Oregon for three seasons and was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection his senior year. He is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports.