By Dave Ruthenberg, Sports Editor
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
J.P. Maciel wants college scouts to know he still is kicking ... and available.
Maciel, 21, who re-wrote the Enid Plainsmen football single-season and career kicking record books in his lone season on the gridiron in 2010, even showed off his leg strength Tuesday at the site of his past glory, Selby Stadium.
Fresh off an 8-hour shift from his job at Roberts Ranch, Maciel connected on 12 of 14 field goals, including nailing it from 50 yards, and was perfect from within 40 yards, and in 90-degree weather.
Such numbers would surely turn the heads or grab the attention of scouts out there. Yet, it’s been a frustrating time for Maciel since he graduated from Enid.
But his confidence has not wavered.
“Coaches don’t want to waste money (scholarships) on a kicker, but when they lose, it’s like, ‘oh man, I wish we had a kicker,”’ Maciel said, reflecting on why he remains sidelined.
It’s also not a matter of grades.
He reports he graduated with a GPA of 3.5, and though he was short two credits for NCAA clearinghouse standards, he went to Northern Oklahoma College Enid to earn the credits to clear his path for college.
Coming out of Enid, he had an offer for a full scholarship to kick at Division II Fort Hays (Kan.) State, but for reasons he still himself is not sure about, chose instead to take a soccer scholarship at Cowley College, a two-year junior college in Kansas.
“I did have the choice. I should have chosen football,” he said. Family matters apparently influenced his decision with his parents believing Cowley to be a better choice. And it was closer to home.
Maciel excelled in soccer at Enid as much as he did on the football field. He set the school record with 14 goals and was named All-District and All-State.
But, while he grew up with soccer in Brazil, where his dad played professionally, he fell in love with football the moment he walked on the gridiron.
“It was love at first sight, I can’t lie,” he said. “I didn’t know what a touchdown was, I just wanted to come out and have fun.”
He did more than have fun.
In his one season, as a senior in 2010, he set the single-season and career mark for field goals in a season with 14 (on 16 attempts), and most career kicking points with 70. He was 28-of-29 in PATs, his only miss coming off a mishandled snap. He was named All-District, District Special Teams Player of the Year and second-team All-State.
“And I was ranked the No. 16 kicker nationally by MaxPreps,” he adds.
Now he just wants the chance to show he still has it and can help a team win.
“I still have what it takes,” he said.
He can’t really explain why football took such a hold on him, but it did.
“I had no idea I would fall in love with the game,” he said. “It was day-after-day after practice; I always came home and said this game is so much fun, it’s getting to me.”
His parents took a bit longer to warm up to it, but once they did, they were fully on board.
“My mom and dad didn’t like the game at all, they didn’t understand it,” he said. “When I started kicking, they came out to my games and then started watching college and pros. Now they’re big OU fans.
“When my mom attended her first home game, she was so emotional,” Maciel said. “After that, she was asking, ‘When’s the next game?’”
He played soccer at Cowley for a year, but decided it wasn’t what he wanted ,and since then, has been trying to land a scholarship as a kicker. Fort Hays State has not responded back to inquiries since he snubbed their offer.
Maciel, who has three years of college eligibility remaining, has maintained contact with teammates from the 6-4 Plainsmen team — the last winning team EHS has fielded — including former All-State wide receiver Mitchell Foote, who redshirted last season at Division II Emporia (Kan.) State. Maciel contacted Foote, who helped set up a tryout in April with Hornets special teams coach Matt Martin.
“They (the coaches at Emporia) were talking to me saying, ‘We want you so bad, we need a kicker so bad.’”
Maciel felt confident of his chances of getting a scholarship offer from Emporia State. He said he connected on 19 of 20 attempts, including a 57-yarder at his tryout.
“I went there and did so well,” he said. “I went to the office (afterward) and they said they were going to have a scholarship for me and would email me.”
Maciel did get an email, but it wasn’t the offer he was expecting. Instead, he was told they used up their scholarship offers, but he could walkon and receive a scholarship the next season, something that was not feasible financially for him or his family.
“I wish they would treat kickers like they do quarterbacks,” he said. “I don’t have the money. It’s a money issue. too.”
But Maciel perseveres and persists with the same determination that allowed him to succeed in school, despite arriving in 2005 only able to speak Portuguese.
He firmly believes he will find the right fit and continue his football career. He has sent his resume around, including to LSU and Alabama, but has not heard back.
He said even a partial scholarship would be welcomed and be an avenue to continue to pursue his dream.
“I just won’t accept the fact that I can’t play football,” he said.“I wake up every day just wanting to play football. I want to be able to show my talent.
“You know when you have a dream and you know you can do something, you don’t give up. I am going to be a pro one day. I am going to continue contacting people and find someone who wants me.”
Some may consider it a longshot nearly three years after Maciel last played football competitively, but 57-yard field goals, even in practice, do have a way of attracting attention.