Syracuse's Shadle eager to kick it at home
Mountaineer Field is never an easy place for opponents to visit, but it feels like home for Syracuse's Patrick Shadle.
The senior kicker was born and raised in Morgantown and played youth soccer and high school football games at West Virginia's stadium. He'll get his last chance to appear on that pitch Saturday when the Orange try to pull an upset of the Mountaineers.
"I played there two years ago, and it was a blast," he said. "It's special for anybody getting to experience playing there, but especially when you're from Morgantown."
Shadle was an all-state kicker who got recruited by the Mountaineers, but only Syracuse offered a scholarship. Even though his older brother graduated from WVU, Shadle thought getting away from where he grew up would expand his horizons.
Syracuse is glad he did. Though the Orange haven't won much during his career, he has been one of their most reliable weapons. He currently holds the school record for career field-goal accuracy at 80.5 percent and is tied for 14th on the program's all-time scoring list. He had made 7 of 8 tries this year and all of his extra points.
At the end of last season, however, Shadle was packing on too many pounds. Coach Greg Robinson told him he needed to slim down or risk losing his job. So Shadle hit the stair climber, cut out junk food and shaved off 35 pounds between January and June.
"I got really worn down at the end of last year," said the 5-foot-9, 200-pounder. "I wasn't able to get my leg up as high it needs to be. Kicking is all about kick speed, and you're not able to swing your leg as fast if you're not light and flexible."
Syracuse hasn't beaten West Virginia since 2001. Does Shadle dream about hitting a game-winning field goal against his hometown school in his final Morgantown appearance?
"That would be real a special opportunity," he said. "But I'd like to kick seven extra points and have the team play well."