Craddock Is Maryland's First Groza Winner

His voice was tired, his accent heavy as always, and it seemed Brad Craddock was back in Australia the connection so choppy on the teleconference last night after the Maryland junior kicker was named recipient of the 23rd Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award.

His voice was tired, his accent heavy as always, and it seemed Brad Craddock was back in Australia the connection so choppy on the teleconference Dec. 11 after the Maryland junior kicker was named recipient of the 23rd Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award, announced at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show from the Atlantic Dance Hall at Disney’s Boardwalk at the Walk Disney World Resort.

But there was plenty of satisfaction and pride in his trailing voice as the Aussie Craddock became Maryland’s first national award winner since 2002, when All-American linebacker E.J. Henderson won both the Chuck Bednarik and Butkus awards.

Craddock earned the honor over fellow finalists Roberto Aguayo of Florida State, who won the award in 2013, and Josh Lambert of West Virginia.

Fittingly, he had his family in from Australia at the ceremony in Orlando (they arrived in the States beginning with the Ohio State game, but left for home today), as well as his kicking mentor, former Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl kicker Brad Stover, who he has worked with for two years and helped get him over the hump as a technician after arriving as more of a raw punter coming up on Aussie-rules football.

“Obviously you know what the award is and means, but my first year I never thought I would be down here today,” Craddock said from Florida. “You know what it’s about, and what a great man and person that he [Groza] was. And I was lucky enough to meet some of his family down here today and get to see what these awards stand for.”

“It is a fantastic honor for Brad to be the recipient of the Lou Groza Award,” said head coach Randy Edsall. “His work ethic and competitiveness are unmatched and personify what all of our student-athletes should strive to achieve. To see him arrive at Maryland having never played football and transforming himself into the best kicker in the nation is something that is very special. This is a great honor and very well-deserved.”

This season, Craddock has converted 18 of his 19 his field goals attempts and has made 11 field goals from 40-plus yards including a school-record 57-yard field goal against Ohio State Oct. 4. His conversion rate of 94.7 percent is a single-season school record and for his career he has made 81.7 percent of his kicks (49-60), which is also a program record.

Craddock said he just went out and kicked all season, and never got caught up in award chasing, and that was right up until the last game with Rutgers, when he had his first miss (54 yards). He was even kicking this week in Florida in between ceremonies to stay sharp for the Terps bowl game.

Craddock also set a school record and tied a Big Ten record with 24 consecutive field goals made. The Big Ten record is shared with Ohio State’s Mike Nugent who made 24 straight field goals from 2001-02.

“I think it was just consolidating the technique and the mind games that I have been working on,” Craddock said of taking his game to the next level this season. “And I think I just kicked a little bit better each year.”

Craddock was named the 2014 recipient of the Big Ten’s Bakken-Andersen Kicker of the Year Award. He also was a first team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches and media and a second team Walter Camp and USA Today All-American.

Craddock said that, going forward, he wants to improve his kickoff ability the most in the off-season. But for now, he has the Foster Farms Bowl later this month, which he was returning from Florida today to get back to Maryland practices and schoolwork.

“I have been training while I have been down here, and that’s still obviously the goal and the team is the number one priority. And I got to be sure I do right by them and definitely get back to school tomorrow, we have practice, and get back to a normal routine,” Craddock said.

It was a heavy week, as Craddock took in the Big Ten title game last weekend in Indianapolis, followed by the week in Florida for the awards. He mentioned a few times on the conference call last night that he was “really tired.”

In the past, Maryland has had some exceptional kickers. From Nick Novak, the veteran San Diego Chargers’ kicker, to Dale Castro to Steve Mike-Meyer and on and on.

But Craddock broke through as the first Groza finalist and recipient, to add to his, as well as the Terps, first-year Big Ten accolades. Terps junior corner Will Likely was up for AA honors as well.

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