Aussie Transplant Takes Steps to Become NCAA Standout
By David Kohn
Growing up in Adelaide, Australia, Brad Craddock played its country’s version of football, which combines rugby, soccer, basketball and a lot of running (the field is 200 yards long).
In Aussie Rules, as it’s known, he played fullback, a position that blends defensive back and on-the-run punter. Craddock had a good leg—with a running start, he could send the ball 70 yards downfield.
But after breaking his left arm twice and his right arm once during collisions, Craddock found himself on the sidelines. Unable to play the game he loved, he spent his time punting: hours and hours, mostly alone, kick after kick.
“I saw the guys in the NFL,” he says, “and I thought to myself, maybe I can do that.”
Maybe he’s right. The Terps kicker is now starting his junior season, and could be one of the best in college football.
His 10,000-mile journey to College Park began in 2012 when he sent a video of his punting to all 120 colleges with a Division 1 team. Maryland Coach Randy Edsall liked what he saw and offered Craddock a scholarship as a punter.
In preseason training camp, however, the team’s placekicker was injured, and Craddock suddenly had a new job—one he hadn’t practiced much. Over the season, he was inconsistent but showed promise.
As a sophomore in 2013, he was much steadier, making 21 field goals and missing just four. He was a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award, given annually to the nation’s best college kicker.
Craddock has also gotten more comfortable off the field; he’s on target for a degree in family science, and if he doesn’t make the NFL, he may go on to study sports psychology. He does admit to missing a few things about home, including the ocean (he’d go to the beach several times a week) and kangaroo meat: “It’s sort of like beef,” he says, “only more tender, with a more intense flavor.”
Over the past year, he’s been working with former Baltimore Ravens kicker Matt Stover, who played in the NFL for 19 years and won two Super Bowls. They get together every few weeks and exchange frequent emails and videos.
“Brad took the initiative with his kicking career,” says Stover. “He’s got the ability to become an excellent kicker.” How much does Stover like his charge? “He could marry my daughter.”
Craddock says good technique allows him to relax under pressure. He loves those moments, when everything rests on his shoulders. “I don’t hear anything,” he says. “I don’t pay attention to anyone. It’s a weird feeling—it’s actually really relaxing. Nothing else matters.”
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