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CRAIG CARDILLO: Receiver balances Naval ROTC with football duties

Mike Gilloon | Friday, November 18, 2005

Kickers aren’t supposed to be exciting. They’re always the ones standing around, leisurely kicking field goals while everyone else sprints through drills and perfects plays.

At least that’s what the stereotype says.

Craig Cardillo, on the other hand, doesn’t fit many stereotypes. The backup Notre Dame placekicker spends his early Monday mornings going through Naval ROTC training and the latter half of football practice working with the scout team receiving corps. He then heads home at night to study enough to keep up on his history major. All in all a pretty busy schedule for a kicker, but Cardillo would have it no other way.

“I like kicking, but I hated standing around during practice,” Cardillo said. “It’s so much more fun as a wide receiver.”

The senior from Hauppauge, N.Y. has had plenty of fun this season preparing the Notre Dame starting secondary for the upcoming opponent as he was named offensive scout team player of the week earlier this season while moonlighting as a wide receiver.

Unlike the stereotypical kicker, Cardillo shrugs off the physical contact dished out when playing scout team receiver.

“You’re not really hitting,” Cardillo said. “Most of the time it’s just wrapping up. And for a wide receiver you don’t really block that much besides cornerbacks.”

His play at wide receiver reminds Cardillo of high school, when he starred for Hauppauge High School at quarterback and wide receiver in addition to kicker.

He was named an all-league and all-county player as a senior.

Cardillo then headed to South Bend, following in the footsteps of his father who graduated from Notre Dame “sometime in the mid-70s” and his brother who graduated from the University in 2002.

Prior to enrolling, Cardillo had considered going to the Naval Academy. But he decided to enter Naval ROTC at Notre Dame. While it sounds like a hectic schedule with football and ROTC duties, Cardillo is thankful the ROTC has worked with him to enable him to do both.

“I have to go to the running on Monday mornings,” Cardillo said. “But that’s pretty much it. On Wednesday we have drills but they let me miss it for practice. If there’s a conflict, I go to football.”

Once football ends however, Cardillo plans on devoting much time to the Navy. He hopes to be stationed in San Diego and will probably end up on a surface warfare ship in the Middle East.

Rooming in Knott Hall, Cardillo had always wanted to walk on the football team. But the coaching staff told him they already had four or five kickers on the roster and encouraged him to walk on in the spring. Cardillo did just that, earning a roster spot as a kicker. But it wasn’t until this season’s BYU game that he reached the field.

No, it wasn’t kicking a late-game extra point or field goal. He earned his way onto the Notre Dame Stadium turf as a member of the kickoff coverage team. Cardillo would have it no other way.