ALBANY — It had been offered up as a joke.
Neven Sussman had punted in high school, but he didn’t expect University at Albany football head coach Greg Gattuso to take that experience seriously.
“But I guess he took it seriously enough to try me out,” Sussman said earlier this week.
That was earlier this year, just a few months after Sussman — now a junior — had lost his spot as the Great Danes’ starting quarterback late in the 2016 season. Gattuso tried Sussman out as a punter during spring practices and liked what he saw enough to give the junior that responsibility in addition to being his backup quarterback.
“I didn’t really fully take in the idea that I was really going to punt until I stepped on the field against Old Dominion to do it,” Sussman said.
But heading into Saturday’s 7 p.m. home opener for UAlbany (1-1) against Monmouth (2-0) at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium, Sussman has proven himself to be a quality punter for the Great Danes, who had one of those last season in Jon Martin. Sussman’s punted 13 times in UAlbany’s first two games with an average distance of 41.5 yards — less than a yard worse than Martin’s average last season.
“Not too bad, right?” Sussman said.
After struggling in 2016, Sussman has become a valuable offensive weapon for the Great Danes, too. He has not completed either of the two passes he’s attempted, but he’s turned 15 rushing attempts into 61 yards and a touchdown.
“Nev’s done a great job for this team. Whenever we call on him to run the ball or pass it, he’s done a great job with the packages we’ve…
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