Padgett no stranger to pressure

Editor’s Note: This column originally ran in Monday’s edition of the York Dispatch.

If you want to talk pressure, you might want to consult Matt Padgett. He’s practically got an advanced degree in the subject.

For years, Padgett has been counted on in situations with runners on base and the game on the line. But that’s not where the York Revolution infielder gets his moxie. He has dealt with the most strenuous job in sports.

Padgett has lived the lonely life of a football placekicker.

After receiving a scholarship to play baseball at Clemson University, Padgett — a soccer stud from the time he could walk — attempted to use his powerful right leg to help the Tigers on the gridiron. He redshirted his first year but soon found himself in a nationally-televised game at Florida State.

With the play clock running and Clemson head coach Tommy West tired of his incumbent kicker’s inaccuracy, West thrust Padgett into the game. His response? He split the uprights on a 33-yard field goal.

“He (West) said, ‘Get the heck in there and kick it,'” Padgett recalled with a smile on his face before the start of Sunday’s 3-0 win over Long Island. “It was probably best that I didn’t have time to think.”

Padgett had many other highlights in his two-year tenure as Clemson’s kicker. He hit four field goals in a game against North Carolina State. And he also nailed the game-winner with 19 seconds left to ice that game. But despite all the kicks Padgett made, he’ll always be remembered for the ones he missed (Sound familiar Scott Norwood?).

When he returns to his hometown of Newberry, S.C., he’s still reminded of a kick he missed against rival South Carolina — a miscue that led to plenty of vulgarities from the Clemson faithful. But Padgett found a way to turn a bad situation into a positive.

“I feel that’s as low as it’s going to get as far as sports goes,” he said. “So if I strike out, it’s not a big deal.”

Padgett said he considered pursuing kicking professionally. He even bounced around the idea of playing in the now-defunct XFL.

Yet, while Padgett always had the leg strength, he was never certain that he could replicate the accuracy of today’s NFL kickers. Nonetheless, things have worked out. Padgett spent parts of four years in Triple-A and is one of the most accomplished players the Revs have.

“I’m doing what I love and every day I get to put a jersey on and come out here,” Padgett said.

And thanks to his high-stress job in college, Padgett will be ready for just about anything even after his playing days are over.

More of Padgett: Padgett stuck around with the Florida Marlins organization for seven years — something you don’t see with a lot of guys. He said he felt there were people in his corner in the organization, but there were obviously other people out there pushing for other prospects. Here’s a quote from a scouting report in Scout.com:

“Matt Padgett is somewhat of a novelty in the Florida Marlins system in that he is a left-handed power hitter. The Marlins organization is very dry in left-handed hitters, let alone those who can hit for power. However, despite Padgett’s unique standing in the organization and his tremendous success at each level of the system, Padgett does not have the overwhelming confidence of the Marlins staff. Matt has his supporters but those within the Marlins organization either love him or hate him. The problem of those that do not see him as a serious prospect think that despite his being elected as an All-Star in the Southern League and leading the league in RBIs in 2003, that he still strikes out too much.”

Read the rest of the Scout.com report here.

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