COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- It's a good thing Brad Craddock's father, Ray, a chemical engineer for an oil and gas company back home in Adelaide, Australia, build up a lot -- we mean a lot -- of vacation days these last 30 years.
Ray Craddock and his wife, Leonie, spent eight weeks in the States last season following their son's football games, starting with the West Virginia game in Baltimore, which just so happened to be Brad Craddock's breakthrough game as a Terp. In between games, both home and on the road, the Craddocks saw the sights and attractions in surrounding areas, while even had vacations in Florida between Terps games.
But this year they will go one better, arriving for the Terps-Ohio State on Oct. 4 and staying a total of 10 weeks, taking in each game including, hopefully, another post-season trip.
His older sister, Alanah, 25, a legal secretary, will also make the journey this fall, for two of the 10 weeks. The entire family is steeped in athletics from Aussie Rules football to cricket to net ball to tennis, a sport Brad Craddock used to coach in his high school days.
"He's just accumulated his holidays over 30 years because he has been at same job all this time," Brad Craddock said. "But he's right on the end of them so we're not sure what they are going to do next year."
That's about the only worry Craddock and family have to concern themselves with these days (in addition to only getting to see his family on Sundays after games), as everything is coming up golden for Craddock, who enters his junior year on the Lou Groza Award watch-list for the nation's top kicker.
Craddock credits his Terps coaches as well as former Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl kicker Matt Stover, who in the last two years has completely broke down and rebuilt the fun-loving Aussie's game. He said the change for him from freshman year, when he was a wild, undisciplined kicker, to know is night and day. It's hard to imagine Craddock is already a junior, after arriving late on the eve of camp two years ago as an unknown from Down Under, one Maryland coaches had only seen on film.
"I guess the first year was kinda tough," Craddock said. "And then I did everything with Matt Stover for that second year. And then for the coming year, this season, really consolidating all that stuff with him, working out with him as much as I could whenever I could."
Craddock, who was joined by other Terps kickers the last few years with Stover at workouts in Baltimore and over film study, said he fine-tuned his technique points and consistency with Stover, from head positioning to steps to leg swing, among others. Last summer, heading into the first game, Craddock said he still didn't feel totally ready, but this season all of that has changed.
"It was making everything smaller, trying to miss small every time if I miss," Craddock said, who worked with Stover every few weeks this summer.
Craddock said he's also been working on his left arm, trying to time up the arm with his right leg for "counterbalance" purposes, he said. Also, his jab step and timing coming into the ball. Craddock has also worked on distance, trying to add a few more yards to his field goals. Craddock films his workouts and techniques and sends it to Stover over video, who will give him feedback.
Craddock saw old film this month of his freshman year and thought, "Wow, I am very different now. My first year I had no technique, it was sort of like there's the goal, have a crack. Where as now I line up different, I face the ball and not the other way. I am really tense now, before I was really relaxed. It's complete opposite, it's crazy."
Craddock kicks about 35 balls a day, but will dial that back as the season approaches. He said he also prays before every kick. But he has become a master technician, with Stover's help, these last few years, and was also seen this week booming punts at practice, another backup plan if needed on special teams.
Said Randy Edsall Aug. 9 after the first week of camp:
“I don’t know if there’s a harder worker on our team in terms of working to prepare himself to be the best he can be," Edsall said. "You talk about the work he’s done on his own to make himself the kicker he is today is remarkable. You have to congratulate the young man. He’s one of those guys that is a student of the game and a student of kicking and the art of kicking. To watch what he’s done, I’m very proud of him."
Craddock doesn't know any Big Ten kickers yet, as he never attended much in the way of national camps. So he will have to wait until he gets to the new BIG venues to check on the wind, drafts, etc., through each stadium. Last year Stover gave him several such pointers for M&T Bank Stadium, and he responded with a career day. Craddock said he's also been working every day with trainers to try and get more flexible as a kicker to get even more distance and punch.
Craddock's on the Lou Groza Award watch-list, though he kind of took it in stride like everything else in his laid-back world.
"Obviously that stuff is awesome to be nominated for and all that. But kicking is like an opportunity game and last year I had a lot of opportunity and therefore I had a good year," Craddock said. "So it depends this year on how many kicks I get and all the opportunities I get. So that's what I expect out of myself and that's what I aim for. So I am excited I got on there."
Craddock is doing well fending off fellow Terps kicker and redshirt freshman Adam Greene, who has a booming leg and is the guy for the future at Maryland. They two have become fast friends and workout partners.
And Craddock is picking up where he left off last season, when he nailed 21-of-25 field goals including a career-day vs. West Virginia in Baltimore in the Terps' rout. Craddock has not been home Down Under since January, and won't be back until after the season during the holidays, when his sister gets married. But he certainly won't lack for a bit of a home field advantage starting when Ohio State visits College Park in early October.
Said Edsall this week:
"We kicked this morning [Aug. 9] and he did a good job. He kicked a 52-yarder. He’s improved tremendously since he first got here. He’s one of those guys that is kind of silent but deadly, he doesn’t say a whole lot. But focused and that will to be good, you can just see it. You can see it in his face and his eyes that he wants to be really, really good. I’m just very proud of him in terms of what he’s been able to accomplish and I think he’s going to continue to get better and he wants to get better and he’s going to do whatever he can do to get better.”
Nothing Like Some Home Cooking for Craddock
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