Michael Marando’s parents responded with a quick “No!” when he first asked if he could play high-school football as a freshman at Xaverian.
Now a kicker at Fordham University, Marando is lucky he was able to change their minds.
Rather than being stranded on the sidelines, Marando is now heading into his senior season at Fordham as a finalist for the Fred Mitchell Award, given to the best non-Bowl Championship Series place kicker in the country.
Marando, who played soccer most of his life, had a great season last year during Fordham’s historic campaign that included a 10–0 start and a run to the second round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. The Rams were picked to win the Patriot League this season and could make a run at a national title.
In his first season as the starterm, Marando made 16 of his 20 field goal attempts and set a school record by connecting on 55 of 56 extra points. He’s hoping to follow in the footsteps of former Rams kicker and mentor Patrick Murray, who won the Fred Mitchell Award in 2012.
“It’s definitely an honor, I learned a lot from Patrick Murray a few years back, who actually won the award,” Marando said. “So most of what I know now and a big part of it is from Murray.”
Marando didn’t start playing football until his high school days at Xaverian. He was a soccer player to start with the Clippers, but during the fall of his freshman year the football coaches at Xaverian went looking for a kicker on the soccer team. He wanted to do it, but ran it into roadblock when he first asked to participate.
“I spoke to my parents and my dad said, ‘No way,’ ” Marando said. “Football was definitely never in the family. So for that to be an option it was out of our comfort zone.”
He eventually got them to come around and started booming 55-yard field goals in practice. It eventually turned into a football scholarship when the Fordham soccer team had no money available. Marando heads into his final season at Fordham as a Preseason All-American and First Team All- Patriot League selection. His importance is not lost on his teammates.
“Mike did a great job for us last year,” said Fordham quarterback Mike Nebrich. “Especially speaking from the quarterback position, once we get down to that 30 and in yard-line, it’s nice knowing if we make a mistake and don’t get it we still have three points on the board.”
None of that would be possible if Marando wasn’t allowed to play football in high school at Xavierian. Marando now has a chance to help one of the nations best Football Championship Subdivision teams try to bring home a crown.
“He’s done a great job this offseason working on his own, and I think he has only missed one kick thus far at camp, that was blocked,” said Fordham coach Joe Moorehead. “I expect him to build off of his success from last year.”