By Cameron Neimand
A year after his final college football season with the Terrapins, Brad Craddock is still in Maryland. In 2014, he won the Lou Groza Award, given to the nation’s top collegiate placekicker. In May of 2016, he was cut by the Cleveland Browns.
So Craddock’s still in the Old Line State, a long way from his Adelaide, Australia home. He ventures from his residence in Clarksburg, where he lives with a buddy from UMD, to practice on the field where students once screamed and pleaded for his very own Heisman candidacy.
He’s optimistic, still confident in his ability to play and displaying a mature understanding of the precarious position of kickers in the NFL, where a single miss can end one career while simultaneously breeding the chance for another.
“Honestly, now it’s just an opportunity,” said an upbeat Craddock in an over-the-phone interview. “You just gotta get lucky.”
Lady Luck didn’t show up to Craddock’s draft party. He went undrafted in 2016, passed up on for kickers like Florida State’s Roberto Aguayo, who Tampa Bay chose with a second round selection. However, an opportunity arose with the Cleveland Browns.
“I committed to them the day of the draft,” explained Craddock. “They called me still when the draft was on and said if I don’t get drafted they’d love to have me in.”
The honeymoon was short lived between Craddock and the Browns. Around two weeks after his arrival in Cleveland, Craddock was released. Another call came in from Pittsburgh, with the Steelers asking for Craddock to come in and show off his stuff. He did, and they weren’t sold.
““That was pretty disappointing, “said Craddock on his learning that he would not make the team. “I had a really good camp and thought I did really well them.”
His next stop was Atlanta, with the Falcons reaching out to Craddock after an injury to kicker Matt Bryant. In Atlanta, Craddock was pitted against NFL veteran Shayne Graham. They each missed one kick in the tryout, Craddock’s from 55 and Graham’s from 50. Unfortunately, Craddock had a feeling his time was up as soon as Graham, with 15 NFL seasons of experience under his belt, knocked in two field goals from distance.
“I knew as soon as he made the 55 and the 57 that he was good,” said Craddock.
Now, he’s in Maryland, seasoned and readied by the opportunities that have passed. He knows he has the stuff, he’s seen it firsthand.
“In Cleveland: I watched them all kick and I was like well, its not that special,” said Craddock assuredly. “I can do what they can do.”
He’s still working to prove it. Craddock trains with one of his kicking idols, Matt Stover, a former NFL player and 2-time Super Bowl Champion. The NFL is still the ultimate goal, noting it being the reason he came to the United States in the first place.
“If I could play Australian rules football,” explained Craddock, “I would have probably never come to America.”
It’s been two years since Craddock went home. He’s patiently awaiting a trip to Australia in January, leaving behind Maryland’s clouds of Old Bay for beautiful Adelaide. Although they were initially unfamiliar with the game, Craddock’s parents have been quick studies, learning the sport of football in which their son hopes to make a career.
Craddock lists his Dad as his greatest kicking doctor, able to understand what his son is doing wrong because the two stay in constant communication over his play. His mom is all in on the American game.
“Mom was up watching the Super Bowl by herself at six o’clock in the morning,” said Craddock happily, proud of his mother’s commitment. “So, I’ve made a monster out of her.”