By Alvin Hollins, Jr. and Ronnie Johnson
As the Florida A&M University (FAMU) Football Team has returned to its’ lofty perch among the elites of both the Black College and NCAA FCS realms under second-year head coach Willie Simmons, one of the keys to the Rattler resurgence has been the kicking game.
Football coaches stress the need for excellence in performance in all three phases of the sport – offense, defense, and special teams.
Quite often the kicking game can be a great equalizer, “flipping the field” on opponents, pinning them down deep in their own territory, which can lead to better field position for the Rattler offense on ensuing possessions.
Over the years, FAMU has had its’ share of stellar special teams’ players from kick return aces like Olympian Bob Hayes (1960-64) to mercurial firebrands like Howard Huckaby (1988-90) and Leroy Vann (2008-09), who both led the nation in punts and kickoff returns in their day.
Rattler kickers have stood out from time to time as well, including the “Kicking Colemans,” Greg Coleman (1972-75), who went on to a stellar NFL career, and speedy Vince Coleman (1978-82), who would take a different all-star professional path to Major League Baseball.
Other boot meisters of note at FAMU include All-Americans Vaughn Wilson (1985-88), Wesley Taylor (2005-07), and current super toe, junior Chris Faddoul (2017-Present).
Junior punter Chris Faddoul blasted his way out of obscurity in much the same timeline as the football program did in 2018, turning in a single-season performance for the ages as the Rattlers posted their first winning record in seven years.
The talented student-athlete from Wesley Chapel, Florida, led NCAA Division I FCS virtually from wire-to-ware in 2018, averaging a single-season school record 46.8 yards per kick, earning him rave reviews from across the nation.
He finished the 2018 season earning first-team All-America notices from the Associated Press (AP) and Boxtorow, the Black College All-America team, as well as first-team All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) honors.
Faddoul is the first FAMU football player to earn first-team AP All-America honors since return specialist Leroy Vann in 2009.
His punting average in 2018 surpassed the previous Rattler season high of 45.9 set by first-team All-America Wesley Taylor in 2005, which was also the nation’s top average that season.
Faddoul finished the 2018 season with 16 punts of 50 yards or longer, with 17 downed inside the opposing teams’ 20-yard line, with a long kick of 67 yards last Nov. 17 in the Florida Blue Florida Classic against Bethune-Cookman, one of two 60-yard punts in that game.
In 2019, the personable youngster is ranked fourth in the NCAA and first in the MEAC, with a nifty 45.9-yard average on 37 attempts through eight games, having missed one game due to injury.
He uncorked a career long 72-yard punt against North Carolina A&T in that Sunday overtime thriller which has the Rattlers on the verge of their finest season since the playoff years of the 1990s.
Faddoul also handles kickoffs from time to time, averaging over 65 yards per kickoff in 2018. He is also the holder on field goals and extra points.
He began his Rattler career in 2017, averaging 39.4 yards per kick on 45 attempts, with eight kicks of 50 yards or better as a freshman, earning All-MEAC honors.
A HIGH KICKER IN CLASS TOO…
Faddoul has been equally proficient in the classroom, epitomizing the concept of the student-athlete.
Last school year, Faddoul turned in a perfect 4.0 grade point average in both the Fall (2018) and Spring (2019) semesters, and through the middle of the 2019 fall term, he holds a 3.86 GPA in Chemistry.
Contact FAMU Sports Information at (850) 599-3200 or 599-3736 for more information.