COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The Terps specialists hit the Byrd Stadium practice field a good 30 minutes before the regulars did so early Monday morning in a cold mist and drizzle.
The punters followed by the long snappers followed by the place-kickers, a few heading back in first to get Under Armour gloves because of the nip in the air.
Then came rising senior and Lou Groza Award winner Brad Craddock, in his white Maryland ‘Pride’ cleats (see rest of all the players in black and red UA cleats), and a punter quickly helped him pull down his jersey over his shoulder pads; a long snapper helped him stretch for a second; and then a gaggle of a dozen or so managers converged on him at midfield for who knows what kind of advice and pearls of wisdom.
Craddock, the Aussie from Down Under, continues to thrive in his adoptive country (he mused this week he may not get home for another two years!), and remains the exemplar of the program on and off the field for Randy Edsall. The Terps head man cites Craddock as the role model for work, both in and off-season, and Craddock’s work with former pros such as Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl champion kicker Matt Stover, is legendary.
So it was no surprise Craddock spent his spring break last week in Nashville, Tennessee, working out with former Terps punter Nate Renfro, who graduated mid-year and moved home to pursue graduate school. Not spent in Florida, again fine-tuning his craft, which Craddock seemingly can’t absorb enough of year-round.
“I went down to Tennessee with Nathan Renfro, kicked with him, the Vanderbilt kicker, the Tennessee’s kicker, and the punter from Kentucky,” Craddock said matter-of-factly. “Went and kicked at Vanderbilt, which was fun, and got to see Nashville as well, which was good.”
This week Craddock was also honored at Congressional Country Club, by the Washington Touchdown Club, for top local college player, among luminaries like NFL Hall of Famer Mike Ditka and others.
Said Edsall this week:
“Brad is fine in terms of what he is doing,” Edsall said speaking of the new battery of snapper and holder working in as the Terps have a changing of the guard there, some injuries, and Caleb Rowe (Craddock’s fave holder) still out. “With Brad, he’s so much more confident in everything else. He’s fine.”
This spring the focus for the All American is his kickoffs, getting the ball a little deeper, which he will hit after spring ball with guys like Stover.
“My height is pretty good, it’s distance, just strike the ball a little more,” Craddock said.
Craddock said adding a little more weight to his 192-pound frame he thinks will help the process, with 198 his goal.
Craddock said he put all his trophies away in a closet this winter, and hasn’t even looked at them yet. He said they are buried beneath his golf clubs. His parents, famous for their lengthy stays in the States in-season, will arrive in September to last the entire season now that his father is retired.
But this month long snapper Christian Carpenter is still out following back surgery, though freshman Nate Adams filled in admirable last fall when Carpenter went down to surgery.
Craddock said he has no pressure, as his expectations remain “to be perfect. That’s kind of my mantra, and it always has been. I don’t think anyone has a higher expectation of me than myself, and that’s how it will always be.”
Craddock said he hasn’t written down his goals for next season, but he said as for the team it’s all about getting “championships” next. “That’s what we are here to do,” he said. “We are looking really good and we are really close right now.”
He worked with Stover this winter, and spoke with him just days ago, but they have yet to break everything down technically “though we have talked about some.” He said that will happen late spring.
Craddock returns as the nation’s top kicker, and projects as a longtime pro someday. He is one of the greatest success stories Edsall and the Terps have seen in years, arriving as an unknown punter. Now he is the most respected Terp on and off the field, something specialists rarely enjoy.
“I love leading my group. I love those guys, working with them, and its hard being a leader as a kicker in a game, because I separate myself from everyone to kick,” Craddock said.
His only weakness? Maybe his handicap in golf, one he didn’t want to quite reveal this week since it was so high!
Craddock Continues To Go The Extra Mile
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