Sept. 24, 2007
Eastern Washington University junior Fritz Brayton, currently with the fifth-highest punting average in the nation, has been selected as the Big Sky Conference Special Teams Player of the Week after his performance in EWU's 34-7 victory over Idaho State.
The 21st-ranked Eagles, 3-0 for the first time since 1997, host Portland State this Saturday (Sept. 29) at Woodward Field in Cheney, Wash. Eastern moved up four spots to 21st Monday (Sept. 24) in The Sports Network NCAA Football Championships Subdivision top 25 poll of sportswriters, broadcasters and sports information directors.
Brayton punted six times for a 47.7 average last Saturday (Sept. 22) at Holt Arena, with a long punt of 53 yards and others of 52, 51, 45, 44 and 41 yards. Two of them were downed inside the Idaho State 20-yard line and the average field position for ISU was their own 20-yard line. In the second half, he had punts that were downed at the ISU 8 and 9 yard lines.
Brayton, a transfer from Washington State University and 2004 graduate of Westview High School in Portland, Ore., ranks fifth in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision with an average of 43.7 yards per punt. He has a long of 55 yards with a total of six punts of at least 50 yards. Five of his 18 punts have been downed inside the opponent 20-yard line.
"So far in the season he's done a really nice job when he's punted," said Eagle head coach Paul Wulff. "A big part of our success has been field position, and he's a big part of that. We need him to show that consistency every week. He replaced a good punter, but so far in the last three games he has done a nice job. As long as the other 10 players on the punt unit are doing their job, it gives Fritz a better chance to have success."
Brayton is taking the place this season of Ryan Donckers, who averaged 42.4 yards per punt as a senior to rank third in school history. His career average of 40.5 also ranks third.
Brayton's father, Fritz Sr., was a wide receiver at Washington State from 1971-73. The junior Brayton is the grandson of WSU baseball legend Bobo Brayton and his cousin Tyler Brayton plays in the NFL for the Oakland Raiders.
And on the lighter side . . .
Happy 60th Birthday Coach Wulff!: Paul Wulff won't be 41 until Feb. 25, 2008, but that didn't stop his players from giving him a birthday wish on the plane flight home from EWU's game at Pocatello. The flight attendant wished Wulff a happy 60th birthday over the loudspeaker, which resulted in a roar of applause and laughter from the team. Upon arrival in Spokane, Wulff began an immediate investigation to identify and punish the culprit. Initial reports blamed the quarterback.