Groza Award winner Brad Craddock a Terps team leader as well as a record-setting kicker
By Daniel Gallen
Carroll County Times|
Aug 30, 2015 at 10:10 PM
COLLEGE PARK — After a whirlwind year featuring one of the most successful seasons ever for a Maryland kicker, and his emergence as the face of the program, senior Brad Craddock is back to where he wants to be: on the field, honing his craft and getting ready for his final season.
His Lou Groza Award and other trophies are stashed in his closet behind his golf clubs, and the expectations for this season are high. But nothing has changed for the Australian as he aims to follow up last season's performance.
"For me, not really," Craddock said last week. "I'm a pretty quiet guy. I'm by myself normally all the time, so not really. I'm just going to keep everything in line and doing the same things, try not to think about that stuff at all and just worry about that first kick. That's where I am."
Craddock holds school records for longest field goal (57 yards), single-season field goal percentage (.947 last year), career field goal percentage (.817), and consecutive field goals made (24). He earned All-Big Ten first-team honors and various All-American honors from a number of organizations and outlets. Craddock's looking for a repeat performance when the Terps start the season Saturday against Richmond.
He has continued to work with former Baltimore Ravens kicker Matt Stover in the offseason and focused on improving his kickoffs. Last season, Craddock averaged 62.45 yards per kickoff and 29 of his 75 kicks (38.67 percent) went for touchbacks, according to cfbstats.com. By comparison, Florida State kicker Robert Aguayo, who on the 2013 Lou Groza Award and finished second a year ago, had 51.04 percent of his kickoffs go for touchbacks.
"I think it'll be really good to look at it and see where I am next week," Craddock said. "I feel good about them. I'm looking forward to hitting them."
Despite his continued improvement over his three years in College Park, this season still marks a season of change for Craddock. Punter Nathan Renfro transferred to Tennessee and holder Michael Tart graduated, marking significant change in the specialists group for Craddock. Craddock said he still talks to Renfro and Tart on a regular basis, but he's now the veteran of the position group.
Craddock's leadership has been one of coach Randy Edsall's favorite topics this past offseason. One of Edsall's favorite stories to tell is when defensive end Yannick Ngakoue sought out Craddock for help mapping out a schedule that would give him the best chance to improve.
During the offseason, Craddock met with Edsall and told him he was going to take charge of Maryland's leadership council. He brought Edsall a list of 10 names he thought should be on the council, and Edsall agreed with eight of the 10.
"I think it is rare because people usually don't think of a kicker as the main leader of a football team, but Brad Craddock is a different person," Edsall said. "He's a different guy from the day that he came in to see me, I think it was in January, once they got back to school. There's moments as a coach that you wait for to happen."
During his three years in College Park, Craddock has improved both his game and his leadership abilities. He struggled at times during his freshman year before rounding into his current form over the next two.
But for Craddock, that's the past. No matter the awards or accolades, his focus is forward.
"I think you see stuff like old film and stuff, and you're like, wow," Craddock said. "I think that's the process. You're trying to get better, so that's what you sort of strive for and try not to look too much at what happened and try to look at what's going to happen. All that stuff's done now."