By Dave Ruthenberg, Sports Editor
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Persistence, and a strong leg, have apparently paid off for J.P. Maciel.
The ex-Enid High School placekicker who holds both single-season and all-time Plainsmen football kicking records and was ranked as the No. 16 kicker nationwide by MaxPreps coming out of high school, said Wednesday he was offered, and verbally committed, to play football this upcoming season for Fort Hays (Kan.) State on a football scholarship.
It ended a time of significant frustration for the 2011 EHS grad who had been offered by Fort Hays State in 2011, but instead chose to take a soccer offer from Cowley (Kan.) College, a two-year junior college. He decided after one year his heart was in football and not soccer.
He was happy Fort Hays remembered him and gave him another opportunity.
Maciel said he committed Wednesday after working out for Tigers head coach Chris Brown.
“I am so happy,” Maciel said. “This (getting an offer) is a huge thing off my back. I was so stressed out. I just wanted a chance to play football and show I could still kick.”
Maciel said he missed only two out of 15 or 20 attempts Wednesday during his workout, one from 57 yards and another from 60 yards, but converted from 55 yards and made several from 25-45 yards.
“The wind was against me, it was blowing pretty hard,” he said.
“After I finished, the coach (Brown) took me back to the main office and told me they were offering me a full ride,” Maciel said. “I asked when I can I commit and they said right now. I stuck out my hand and we agreed then.”
Maciel said he plans to formally sign later this month at his employer, Roberts Ranch, where his supervisor, Mark McCulley, plans to hold a signing ceremony.
It ends a tumultuous period for Maciel, whose quest to land a football offer was chronicled in the News & Eagle in a story last month.
“I emailed a copy of the story to (assistant coach) Justin Iske, who recruited me before,” Maciel said. “He (Iskey) emailed me back and said he showed it to coach Brown who sent me an email and said he remembered me and asked me to come out and tryout.”
Maciel said his personal online campaign blitz of sending around the story also yielded interest from Northwestern Oklahoma State and Baker (Kan.), but he was sold on Fort Hays, which like NWOSU, is an NCAA Division II school. Baker competes in NAIA.
“That newspaper article really helped in letting people know I was available,” he said.
The Tigers are in the process of updating their stadium with new turf and have built an indoor facility as well. In fact, Maciel’s tryout took place on the soccer field as the school still is installing new turf on its football field.
“I just liked the school,” Maciel said. “The new facilities are just incredible. Nobody else compared to them.”
A native of Brazil who came to the United States in 2005, Maciel said he plans to study international business. He said he will have four years of eligibility at Fort Hays.
He said his parents were excited when he told them the news and they have become big fans of American football, almost as much as he has taken to the sport.
“I’m Brazilian at heart, and American by choice,” he said.
Maciel expects to report to Fort Hays State Aug. 1, but plans to keep busy until then. “I am going to practice every day at the high school,” he said.
Maciel said he wanted to thank God for the opportunity as well as his parents, friends and those who supported him.
The Tigers, who finished 5-6 in 2012 and compete in the Mid-American Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA), open the season at home Sept. 5 against Emporia State (Kan.). The Hornets also have a record-breaking Plainsmen on their roster. Wide receiver Mitchell Foote will be a redshirt freshman for Emporia. Foote owns several EHS single-season and all-time marks, earned All-State and was a teammate of Maciel’s.
“I told him to be ready for me,” Maciel said.쇓