COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The kicking in College Park has been as up and down as the stock market since former Lou Groza Award winner Brad Craddock’s departure after the 2015 season. So perhaps that’s why the Terps have turned to a potential future financial analyst for their field goal kicking duties this year.
Henry Darmstadter was finishing up his senior season kicking for Georgetown last November when he began compiling a list of programs that he’d consider playing for in his fifth and final season of college football as he works toward earning his MBA.
“[Maryland] was one of the schools,” Darmstadter said. “My head coach was helping me put together the list and he said, ‘You know, I know the special teams coordinator [at Maryland]. I used to play with him at Georgetown. You might want to see if they’re looking for somebody.’”
Although Maryland already had a senior kicker in Adam Greene and a promising kicking prospect committed for 2018, the Terps were intrigued by what Darmstadter could bring to the table and welcomed him as a grad-transfer from the Hoyas this summer.
“Coach [Pete] Lembo reached out and asked if I had made any decisions,” Darmstadter said. “He said they’d be interested in pursuing this down the road a little bit and seeing where this takes us. I told him that I hadn’t and basically throughout the spring I’d come up here and talk to Coach [DJ] Durkin and Coach Lembo a lot. And then from there it just sort of evolved. We talked a lot about the school because for me it was important to also get a decent education out of this. I didn’t want to just come here and play football. I wanted to be able to use this to get myself a master’s, to sort of propel my career a bit and hopefully help me going forward.”
With an economics degree from Georgetown and potentially a master’s in business from Maryland, Darmstadter’s future in finance looks bright. But perhaps the same should be said about his immediate future as Maryland’s kicker after his impressive showing in the Terps' 31-24 win at Minnesota Sept. 30.
Darmstadter set a new career-high for himself last Saturday by drilling a 51-yard field goal against the Golden Gophers to send the Terps into halftime with a 17-10 lead. His previous career-high was 49 yards while kicking for Georgetown.
“I thought it was great,” Maryland head coach D.J. Durkin said. “More than just that, it was great momentum going into the half. You look how we closed out both halves. The first half and the end of the game, I thought was big in the game and terrific by our guys. For Henry to come in and hit that, it was big. It was a 51-yard field goal. That’s something we haven’t been able to do or have here in awhile. Yeah, we can certainly build on that. [I’m] very excited for him, he’s been a great addition to our team.”
The Alexandria, Va., native was not named Maryland’s starting kicker coming out of fall camp. But the inconsistency of Greene finally caught up to him, and by Week 2 against Towson, Darmstadter had taken over the lead role.
Admittedly, Darmstadter was not used to being asked to make kicks of that magnitude before coming to College Park. He points out that the football programs at Georgetown and Maryland are markedly different.
“I would say the biggest difference between Maryland and Georgetown would be the atmosphere and just the intensity of everything,” Darmstadter said. “Obviously Georgetown football isn’t as big as Maryland, from budget to staff size to energy put in across the board from the administration on down. So obviously coming here was a big step up in a sense. But so far I’ve, I guess, risen to the challenges.”
The kick he made against Minnesota is the biggest hurdle Darmstadter has overcome so far, and he credits his poise in that pressure-packed situation to the confidence he has in himself and his preparation.
“A lot of it is just kind of believing in yourself and trusting that you can do the job that you’ve done for almost 10 years now,” Darmstadter said. “I’m always working on the fundamentals. For me, it’s about always making sure that I’m making clean contact and just staying focused on what’s important. I try to watch film every day and review what went wrong. It’s just making sure I get good height on the ball, good distance.”
Despite being asked to make the longest kick of his career, Darmstadter wasn’t too worried about the distance. Mother Nature turned out to be a bigger concern at the time.
“All day I was playing with the wind,” Darmstadter said. “That was probably the worst wind I’ve played in as far as not knowing where it was going. But I’ve had games where it has been windier. I knew I had the distance from there so the distance wasn’t really worrying me. It was about whether or not I’m going to get the right accuracy, am I going to be able to play the wind the right way.”
But once the kick left his foot and went through the uprights, Darmstadter began to earn more than just an MBA from Maryland. He has also now solidified his role as important member of the football program in College Park.
“I looked up and it looked like it was going straight, and then it looked a little left, and then it came back straight,” Darmstadter said. “It felt fantastic. It was definitely a great experience. My kicking coach texted me and said, ‘You’re living the dream.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, yeah I am.”