Around this time last season, Brad Craddock was sliding in his first season of American football. Fresh off a heartbreaking last-second miss against North Carolina State, the Australian’s troubles got worse at Boston College the following week, when he missed a 33-yard attempt in the first half and was benched in favor of Brendan Magistro.
This season, however, has been entirely different. Craddock has been named one of 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award, bestowed annually upon the nation’s best kicker. Through eight games, Craddock has made 15 of 18 field-goal attempts — an 83.3 percent conversion rate that ranks fourth-best in Maryland history — and is 14 of 15 from less than 50 yards. His 1.88 field goals per game ranks second in the ACC and seventh nationally among Football Bowl Subdivision kickers.
With four games left this season, beginning with Saturday’s home matchup against Syracuse, Craddock sits nine field goals shy of Nick Novak’s program record, which the current San Diego Chargers place kicker set in both 2002 and 2003. He is one of 15 newcomers to the Lou Groza Award semifinalist list; the four returnees include reigning winner Cairo Santos (Tulane). Florida State’s Roberto Aguayo was the only other ACC representative.
Finalists will be announced on Nov. 25. The winner will be announced on Dec. 12.
Depth chart news
>> True freshman Moise Larose moves from backup right tackle to starting left tackle, replacing Mike Madaras, who abruptly left the program for personal reasons last week. Nick Klemm makes his first appearance on the two-deep this season after hurting his foot during summer practices. He backs up Ryan Doyle at right tackle.
>> Quarterback C.J. Brown, who missed the Clemson game with a trunk injury, returns to the starting role as Caleb Rowe shuffles back to second string. Brown has missed all or part of all four ACC games with various injuries this season, but Maryland hopes the bye week provided enough rest to return Brown under center.
>> Running back Brandon Ross (shoulder), tight end Dave Stinebaugh (knee) and safety Anthony Nixon (toe) are all listed on the depth chart after sitting out against the Tigers. Inside linebacker L.A. Goree also returns after missing two straight games with back spasms, indications that Maryland hopes all these starters can resume their regular roles this weekend.
>> Fullback Tyler Cierski slots behind Kenneth Goins as the backup fullback. Cierski made his season debut against Clemson after missing time with a preseason injury.
>> Some minor changes along the defensive line as Roman Braglio exits the two-deep, Alex Walker moves to backup nose tackle behind Darius Kilgo and Andre Monroe switches again to backup defensive end behind Keith Bowers.
>> No sign of cornerback Jeremiah Johnson, whose return from a fractured toe was pegged around this time. It’s likely Maryland will monitor his progress and make a decision based on his performance this week. Will Likely and Isaac Goins remain the two starting cornerbacks.
>> Junior Michael Tart, Maryland’s starting holder, becomes the backup kicker behind Craddock. Freshman Adam Greene has been hampered by a quadriceps injury suffered during practice and officially moves off the depth.