LARAMIE — Nick Null has never visited Wyoming’s campus. In fact, he’s never been to the Cowboy State.
Much to the delight of Null and Wyoming’s football program, that will soon change.
“I’ve seen pictures,” said Null, who will join the Cowboys’ program as a graduate transfer from Cornell. “It seems pretty similar to the Cornell type of campus, which is really a college town type of feel. It should be a similar climate. Another thing, too, is it’s 7,000 feet above sea level, and that’s great for kicking off and kicking field goals.”
Null is a member of UW’s 2020 recruiting class even if the school can’t officially acknowledge that fact yet. The Cowboys announced the addition of five more signees Wednesday during the traditional signing period, but Null wasn’t one of them even though he had publicized his verbal commitment on Twitter late that morning.
“The situation is different for grad transfers than high school guys,” Null said. “You need to enroll first.”
Null said he has submitted the necessary paperwork to UW and plans on enrolling in summer classes once he’s allowed to in March. He’ll be working toward an MBA degree once he graduates from Cornell in May with an undergraduate degree in communications.
Once that happens, Null can focus on the next task at hand: Replacing kicker Cooper Rothe, UW’s all-time leading scorer.
A specialist with one year of immediate eligibility remaining, Null handled placekicking and punting duties for Cornell last season. He connected on 75 percent of his field goals (6 of 8) with a career-long of 49 yards and averaged 39.5 yards per punt on his way to all-Ivy League honorable mention honors. A second-team all-league selection as a placekicker in 2017, Null handled both as well as kickoffs throughout his four-year career with the Big Red, though he was able to redshirt as a junior in 2018 after a torn meniscus limited him to just three games that season.
“I have a very strong leg,” said Null, who played his high school ball at Manatee High in Bradenton, Florida. “I feel confident kicking at a lot of places on the field.”
Looking for increased exposure outside of the Ivy League, Null entered the transfer portal in January. With Rothe’s eligibility expired, Wyoming was in the market for a kicker. Through connections with renowned kicking instructor Mike McCabe, who’s trained Null for years, and former UW special teams staffer Ben Fentress, the two became acquainted.
“They kind of expressed to me that their situation was they needed a guy to kick off and punt,” Null said of Wyoming. “They saw my situation at Cornell where I was doing all three, and they think I can do all three there. They actually would encourage me to want to do all three.”
Null said he received scholarship offers from some Football Championship Subdivision schools, but Wyoming coach Craig Bohl extended a scholarship offer over the phone the night before signing day. Nebraska offered a scholarship at the last minute Wednesday, but Null said UW was the “right situation” for him.
“(Bohl) extended the offer to me personally and said he wanted me to come in there and be the guy,” Null said. “When a head coach comes in, offers you and fully commits to you, it’s tough to say no to that. You have a lot of faith on your end. Again, it just seemed like a no-brainer.”
Null said he’s scheduled to visit UW for the first time with his parents in early March. He plans to train with McCabe in Birmingham, Alabama, for a couple of weeks following graduation before making the cross-country move to UW in June.
Null will arrive knowing all about his predecessor’s accomplishments. Rothe morphed into one of the nation’s top placekickers during his four years at UW, connecting on 76.6 percent of his field goals and finishing his junior season as a finalist for the Lou Groza Award after leading the nation in field-goal percentage (94.1). He finished his career with 342 points.
But an experienced kicker like Null is confident in his abilities, too.
“I try not to worry about coming in and replacing an All-American-caliber player,” Null said. “In my mind, I’m an All-American-caliber player. In my mind, I know I can go out and win a Lou Groza Award. That’s why I’m coming here, to prove that I’m a guy that can compete for it. I just want to come in, go over the hump and win the thing. That’s been my goal since the beginning of the process, and that will be my goal the entire process for my fifth year.