Ever since Connor McFadden of Poland, was a little boy he could be seen running around kicking various objects.
At an early age, McFadden was a maestro at booting soccer balls all over fields in his hometown. As McFadden entered his mid teens he used that soccer experience to become adept at kicking a different shaped sphere. McFadden became the master placekicker for the Poland Bulldogs' football team setting numerous records along the way. Due to that fabulous high school football career, McFadden signed with Youngstown State University to continue getting his kicks at the college level. That signing became official on National Letter of Intent Day on Wednesday, Feb. 6.
"We are very proud today," said Poland head coach Mark Brungard at a press conference held inside the Poland school library. "We watch kids develop (from the time they enter Poland) and Connor is a kid we like to put on the cover of what we like to do here at Poland."
Coach Brungard stressed that McFadden was a very hard worker who could be seen long after daylight booting balls on the Bulldogs' practice field. Those repetitions allowed the senior to set Poland records for field goals with 19 and PAT's with 108. Since YSU is such a short drive from Poland, all of McFadden's family and friends will be able to watch him add to those lofty totals.
"It will be great to be so close to home," McFadden said shortly after signing. "The recruiting process was fun and it went great."
One reason why that usually trying process of being wooed by potential colleges was easier for McFadden is that he is the closest thing to a YSU legacy as one can be. Connor's mother Dianne Rappach was a force for the Lady Penguins on the basketball court from 1988-1992. She is a member of the YSU Hall of Fame. While Rappach is a well-known on the YSU campus, Connor's dad may have even made a larger name for himself. Paul McFadden was a kicker for the Penguins in the early 1980's and holds many YSU kicking records. Not only is the elder McFadden in the school's Hall of Fame as well, but he is also a former NFL kicker with Philadelphia, the New York Giants and Atlanta. Following in his father's very prestigious footsteps is something Connor is chomping at the bit to do.
"It will be a great honor," said young McFadden. "There may be a little more pressure on me, but it's something I can handle. I will work as hard as I can and come in ready to compete."
McFadden blew away all competition in the high school ranks during his tenure at Poland and should do the same in college both on and off the field. He will be working towards an engineering degree at YSU using the great education and support he received at Poland Seminary.
"Poland did so much for me to mold me," McFadden said warmly. "They showed me great support the whole way."
Another factor working in Connor's favor is the fact that he has grown to 6-foot-2. Tall kickers like that are few and far between and his height certainly helps him drive the ball. The future Penguin would like to add a little bulk to his 165-pound frame, but thinks heavy lifting in the weight room will help him gain the necessary weight. All of the training should help Connor improve in one area where he believes he is slightly deficient.
"I'd like to work on kicking off the ground a little more," said McFadden honestly. "YSU has the best facilities (for working on kicking)."
Those who remember Connor's father's career recall the first kicking McFadden's choice to boot field goals without wearing shoes or socks. When quizzed if he would try to emulate his dad's success of barefoot booting, Connor politely declined.
"I think I'll keep my shoes on," said the second McFadden chuckling.
That's OK, Connor, because you have been knocking the shoes and socks off of everyone who has watched your high school games with amazement already.