True freshman Brad Craddock will bring a fresh face to Maryland’s kicking game Saturday when he gets the start against William & Mary. A fresh face, an Australian accent and plenty of accompanying Down Under references.
Australia has exported punters onto American football squads before. LSU all-American Brad Wing was born in Melbourne. Memphis punter Tom Hornsey hails from Geelong. Darren Bennett, a Sydney native, paved the intercontinental road in the mid-90s. The two-time Pro Bowler was named to the NFL 1990s all-decade team.
Craddock, for his part, comes from Adelaide, fresh out of Tabor Christian College. All four honed their skills playing Aussie Rules Football.
But how did Maryland Coach Randy Edsall find his new kicker, nearly 16,000 miles away, in the capital of South Australia, in a city where tourists get ferried across the River Torrens by a boat named The Popeye?
Simple: He enlisted another Aussie for help.
When Edsall was at Connecticut, he coached Adam Coles, who wound up starting all four seasons and setting the school’s all-time punt yardage record after his junior year. The two kept in touch via Facebook ever since Coles left U-Conn., and alerted him to Craddock.
“You have the film, and you look at the film at that point in time,” Edsall said. “It’s not an evaluation period. You’re not going to fly to Australia to see the kid. So you have to use your resources as best as you can.
“Adam knows what we’re looking for. Plus, he competed at this level. He had worked with the team Brad was on at some time, and he knew about him. Then just finding out what kind of person he is, all those sorts of things. Having a guy who punted here in the States and punted at the BCS level, that stuff is really important to me. He knows what I want, because he played for me.
“They weren’t best of friends or anything like that, but he had a record and a background on [Craddock] that he could relate to me and give me that information.”
Craddock, Edsall said, earned the starting nod for his consistency throughout preseason. Incumbent Nick Ferrara is still nursing some soreness brought on by his offseason hip surgery, and will be out Saturday. Craddock will handle the kickoffs and placement kicks.
The punting battle between Craddock and classmate Nathan Renfro is still up for grabs, at least as of Thursday. Edsall called it a “game-time decision” earlier this week.
In his limited time across the Pacific, the scouting reports on Craddock have been positive.
“I don’t think 50 [yards] is out of his range, but again he’s still a guy who’s going to get stronger and develop and everything else,” Edsall said.
“[Coles] just said he’s got a strong leg. He’s got things to improve upon, just like anyone else. All of the things Adam told me were very, very positive. It went along with, ultimately, what you saw on the tape as well.”