Deep into the spring, Mike Shinsky wasn't quite sure he was going to get the chance to continue his football career past a sterling senior season at McDonogh. But in late April, the kicker got a call he wasn't sure he would ever get: The Maryland coaching staff was offering him a preferred-walk-on spot and the opportunity to compete for the Terps' kicking job.
So less than 24 hours after capping his high school career at the Big 33 Classic in Hershey, Pa., Shinsky will move into his dorm in College Park on Sunday afternoon and get ready for the beginning of summer classes and workouts Monday.
A preferred walk-on is usually a player guaranteed a spot or priority to earn a spot on a team's 105-player roster, but who has to pay his own way.
Shinsky credited kicking coach Matt Stover — who also coached former Maryland kicker Brad Craddock and current Terp Adam Greene (Broadneck) — with connecting Shinsky to the Maryland staff and putting him in position to compete for a spot on a Division I team.
"He helped me out a lot, just with technique to be able to make me even think about going there, technique-wise, because I had to do a lot of stuff over the summer," Shinsky said after the Big 33 Classic. "He was in contact with some of the coaches, and they were interested. They saw my film and it just kind of went from there."
Shinsky said Maryland offered him the preferred-walk-on spot at the end of spring football. Shinsky will not have a declared major when he enrolls, but he plans to apply to the business school.
In his senior season at McDonogh, Shinsky made eight of nine field-goal attempts, including a 40-yarder, and converted 38 of 39 extra-point attempts to earn All-Metro first-team honors. In the Big 33 Classic, Shinsky made both of his extra points for Maryland, in addition to handling punting duties. In addition to his work with Stover, Shinsky said Craddock, the 2014 Lou Groza Award winner, has been a major influence on his development.
"He helps me out with technique a bunch," Shinsky said. "He's a hell of a kicker, best kicker I've seen in person. Both Matt Stover and Brad Craddock, they made me who I am today."
The Terps had two kickers on their roster this spring in Greene and Daniel Sutton, who sat out last fall after transferring from Towson. Greene took over kicking duties last fall after Craddock suffered a season-ending wrist injury in November and finished three of five on field goals and 11 of 11 on extra points.
At Maryland, Shinsky knows he'll be entering an environment where the kicker's role is valued. Former coach Randy Edsall singled out Craddock for his leadership regularly, and Craddock served as one of the faces of the program. New Terps coach DJ Durkin comes from an extensive special teams background and made sure to emphasize that facet of the game during spring practice.
"That they value kickers is important to me," Shinsky said. "Most schools, they just do their own thing, they're off to the side. But [at Maryland] they take them under the wing and they're just another player on the team. They're all in too."