Short-handed by COVID-19, Vanderbilt brings in women's soccer player as kicker

Vanderbilt football had a new face at practice on Tuesday, one that could end up making college football history.

Sarah Fuller, the starting goalkeeper on the Commodores women’s soccer team, suited up in full pads with the football team, according to Simon Gibbs of the Vanderbilt Hustler, the school’s student newspaper. While she did not attempt any kicks, she went through walkthroughs with the coaching staff.

During the SEC coaches teleconference on Wednesday, Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason confirmed that Fuller was at practice and that she’s “an option” to kick against Missouri on Saturday.

The football team reportedly made the move with several special teams players in quarantine due to COVID-19. The women’s soccer team’s season ended earlier this month, making Fuller available.

Whether Fuller is in Vanderbilt’s plans for Saturday is unclear, but the milestone her appearance would represent is obvious.

Vanderbilt’s Sarah Fuller could make history

October 15 2016: The helmet of the Vanderbilt Commodores. The Vanderbilt Commodores defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 17-16 at Sanford stadium in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Charles Mitchell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Vanderbilt brought in Sarah Fuller for practice. We'll see if the program needs her for a game. (Photo by Charles Mitchell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Women playing on college football teams isn’t unprecedented, but not among modern Power 5 programs.

Non-Power 5 schools make up the list of programs that have had women appear in a game, which includes New Mexico’s Katie Hnida, West Alabama’s Tonya Butler, Kent State’s April Goss, Jacksonville State’s Ashley Martin and Williamette’s Liz Heaston. All of those players appeared as kickers, though there have been non-specialists as well like Central Methodist safety Toni Harris.

That’s not to say no woman has suited up with a Power 5 team. KaLena Barnes made a punt during Nebraska’s spring game in 2000, and was preceded by women attempting to play at Duke and Louisville according to the Associated Press.

If the Commodores end up needing Fuller for a kick or punt, it appears she would be the first to ever play in a game for a Power 5 program.

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