Undrafted punters don’t normally draw a lot of attention, but circumstances are different for Green Bay Packers rookie Peter Mortell.
Mortell is from Green Bay. He played his high school football at nearby Green Bay Notre Dame high school. His grandfather was the team’s game clock operator for more than three decades before his father took over in 2000.
Mortell knows his way around Lambeau Field. He’s been attending games since middle school and worked as a game-day assistant in the press box during high school.
After being signed as an undrafted free agent out of Minnesota, Mortell said he didn’t seem to be nervous with his surroundings while taking part in the teams rookie orientation last week.
Mortell will be battling with veteran Tim Masthay for the Packers’ punting job. But Mortell said he isn’t looking at this as competing against Masthay, rather an opportunity to learn.
While it can take punters more than one chance to eventually hook on with an NFL team, the timing would appear to be right for Mortell.
Masthay is coming off a down season in 2015 and struggled in the team’s playoff loss to Arizona.
Mortell walked on at Minnesota and averaged 44 yards a punt during the past three seasons as the team’s primary punter. He earned third team all-Big Ten honors as a senior, averaging 43.3 yards per punt despite having arthroscopic surgery on his left non-kicking knee during the season. It included 20 punts that traveled 50-plus yards. Mortell also had 26 punts downed inside an opponent’s 20-yard line and forced 16 fair catches.
As a junior, Mortell was named the Big Ten punter of the year and was named first team all-conference.
Mortell performed on the field and turned out to be a rising star off it. During his Junior season, he received a $452 Best Buy gift card for playing in the Citrus Bowl. Instead of spending it on himself, he used it to buy items for underprivileged children in Minneapolis.
During his senior season, Mortell started a fundraising effort to raise $10,000 for teenage patients at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital. He ended up raising more than twice that amount.
Mortell would love nothing more than to win the Packers punting job and play in front of family and friends every week. He also would like to continue his charitable work in Green Bay. Athletes can use their position as a stand to help others. Mortell found that out before he even made it to the professional ranks and now wants to do even more good moving forward.