After five years of playing, there comes a time when Kansas State football players begin to wonder what will come next. For former place kicker Matthew McCrane, the answer was easy: going into the National Football League.
Upon K-State winning the 2017 Cactus Bowl against UCLA, McCrane hit the ground running to start the next chapter in his life.
McCrane’s agent, Rob Roche, began working behind the scenes with K-State’s prized kicker. Shortly after, he would be preparing for NFL pro day tryouts where he’d be able to kick in front of 25 different teams.
Although McCrane was not in the NFL Combine, it did not stop him from making his own path. With the NFL Draft drawing closer, McCrane has been able to practice with four teams: the New Orleans Saints, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots and the Arizona Cardinals, with the possibility of more to come.
With the NFL Draft coming on April 27, the chances of McCrane being one of the 256 people selected has increased. Hearing that he could be a sixth or seventh round draft pick was “neat to hear,” but the possibility of being a free agent also comes along.
With his name out and about through the league, McCrane is able to look back at how he has gained his reputation during his time at K-State under coaches Bill and Sean Snyder.
“My career at K-State helped me get the attention I have,” McCrane said. “I think not getting into the NFL Combine was a blessing in disguise. I think it got more interest in me as a kicker because people knew what I did at K-State. … I got to be with the best special teams unit in the country and under coaches Bill and Sean Snyder.”
Keeping to his K-State roots, McCrane has kept in contact with teammates Byron Pringle and DJ Reed, as well as offensive coordinators Andre Coleman and Colin Klein. The support system McCrane has felt even as he walked out of Bill Snyder Family Stadium still reigns on him as he continues on his football career.
The Brownwood, Texas, native continues to let everything sink in. During his high school years at Brownwood High, McCrane didn’t start kicking until his junior year. For his senior year, he collected 7-of-12 field goals he attempted, including one that became a school record of 52 yards. In 2013, he was selected to play on Team USA in the U19 International Bowl.
The coincidence of McCrane being able to watch history in front of his eyes is remarkable for him. With no idea of being a kicker, he was able to watch mind-shattering wins and losses that were achieved by kickers.
“I didn’t even start kicking until my junior year of high school,” McCrane said. “It’s ironic that I grew up a Texas Longhorns fan and I was able to see games with great kickers: Hunter Lawrence at Nebraska, Justin Tucker at Texas A&M, Dusty Mangum against Michigan … I got to witness every single one of those and not know I was going to be a kicker at K-State.”
McCrane’s support system goes even further than the K-State fan base, as his family and fiancée look forward to what could happen next.
The possibilities of the NFL are endless. With opportunities to continue to expand and thrive being taken away so quickly, McCrane said he is so ready for anything.
“My family is supportive,” McCrane said. “They tell me to take it all in and be prepared for what’s to come. It’s a cutthroat business. My fiancée, Megan, is ready for that and she knows that can happen.”
A lot of endeavors McCrane experienced helped him become the person that he is today. Whether it was experiencing the K-State fan base or being able to impact children’s lives, he is happy the way his life has shaped out with the opportunities he was presented with.
Without his teammates at K-State, McCrane wouldn’t have been able to experience the thrill of being able to touch lives, like he did with Tate Reed and Kaiden Schroeder.
“When I first came to K-State, I was a bit distracted,” McCrane said. “Nick Walsh took me and made me more appreciative. I got to meet kids like Tate Reed who was battling cancer, kids that are dealing with things off the field that have no control. I later got to meet Kaiden Schroeder, and he also had a huge impact on me. It’s been a big deal to me.”
McCrane also mentioned Dalton Risner and former K-State player Ryan Mueller had impacted him as well, since he was able to watch them both give back to their communities.
As McCrane is set to earn his Master of Business Administration in May, he can only continue to thank the K-State fan base and every moment he shared with them.
“Being at K-State with the best fan base in the country left a mark on me,” McCrane said. “It’s the best student section in the country where at other schools it’s non-existent … each high is an accomplishment and I’m being extremely appreciative because I know it could end tomorrow. This experience is definitely surreal.”