With rumors of a publicity stunt by Vanderbilt University starring soccer player-turned-football kicker Sarah Fuller still swirling, the SEC named Fuller Special Teams Player of the Week along with Florida’s Kadarius Toney on Monday. This, after Fuller, had made one second-quarter kickoff during her first-ever college football game.
Fuller, who joined the Vanderbilt football team only three days before her Saturday debut against Missouri, “Took the opening kickoff of the second half against the Tigers, as her perfectly-executed kick sailed 30 yards and was downed at the Missouri 35-yard line,” according to the SEC. The Tigers went on to beat Vanderbilt 41-0.
Kadarius Toney, a wide receiver for the Gators since 2017, joined the team as a freshman. According to the SEC, during his game against Kentucky, “Toney returned a punt 50 yards for a touchdown which proved to be the decisive score in the game as Florida defeated Kentucky, 34-10, on Saturday.” Additionally, “Toney’s 50-yard punt return touchdown was the Gators’ first punt return touchdown since Freddie Swain’s 85-yarder for a touchdown against Colorado State on Sept. 15, 2018,” the SEC said.
Fuller created a buzz amongst critics after she revealed to reporters after the game that she had delivered a halftime locker-room speech to the team. “I had coaches come up to me and say ‘I’ve been wanting to say that for a while now,’” Fuller reportedly said of her own locker-room speech. Media reports later questioned how it was that a first-time football player was chosen to deliver such an awe-inspiring speech to her new team, and also before her first-ever play in a game.
“Keep in mind, Fuller hadn’t yet stepped foot on the field for her kickoff before giving this speech,” Joe Kinsey from Outkick wrote.
Kinsey also said:
If you were on the fence about whether Vanderbilt using soccer goalie Sarah Fuller as a fill-in kicker for Saturday’s game against Missouri was a publicity stunt or a necessity, you got your answer on Sunday when it was announced that Fuller had given a halftime speech to her new teammates.
As for this speech, you mean to tell me that a kicker who was pulled off the women’s soccer team and who started practicing with the football team on Tuesday was given the floor to lecture teammates on Saturday?
Other critics questioned Vanderbilt’s intentions after the locker-room speech story broke as well, but in a recent interview, Fuller took her critics in stride. “At this point, like, what are you doing? You know? I am a [Division 1] soccer player. I’m going to Vanderbilt University. I’m getting my degree from here. I’ve done amazing things,” she said.
Hear @sarahfuller_27 on the crazy reactions
-speaking to team at halftime
-how NEVER QUITTING led her to this historic moment for @vandyfootball @espnw @espncfb
Photo credits: Vanderbilt Athletics pic.twitter.com/njDDGodX1I
— Holly Rowe (@sportsiren) November 29, 2020