Paddock, motivated by his late brother, earns ISU kickoff job

Pete Temple
Express Sports Editor

     There is no question about what motivates Peyton Paddock, as he enters his senior season with the Iowa State University football team.

     It’s evident in the dog tags a friend gave him, the ones that are engraved “I Play For Cameron.” And the necklace, embossed with the fingerprint of Cameron Paddock, Peyton’s brother, who was killed by a drunken driver in 2016.

     “He’s my reason why,” Peyton Paddock said. “I wear those all the time.”

     Peyton, who was a two-time all-state placekicker at Monticello High School, has used that motivation to earn the starting job on kickoffs this coming season for the Cyclones.

     Paddock is taking his new role in stride.

     “It feels pretty good, but at the same time, I know that I still have stuff to work on, and I have to continuously work on improving,” he said.

     It was a struggle, Peyton said, returning to Iowa State after the accident that took Cameron’s life.

     “I’m going to be honest, it was rough for me to come back to school,” Peyton said. “I debated staying home. But I came back, and the team had open arms for me, just helping me out through the process.”

     The other thing Paddock had to work through was patience. Late in the 2016 season he took the field and kicked an extra point for the Cyclones in a 66-10 win over Texas Tech.

     But over the next two years, the redshirt walk-on rode the bench. It wasn’t until a 2018 game against Drake that Peyton took the field again, executing a kickoff.

     “It’s been an ongoing process,” he said. “Obviously everyone wants to play, but you just have to keep your head down and keep working.”

     It helped that Iowa State’s kickers work together to make everyone better, he said.

     “We’ve got a tight-knit group of guys working together. We’re always trying to help each other out on everything that we can,” Peyton said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re starting, or third string, we’re trying to get better.”

     The other benefit is that Iowa State, coming off an 8-5 season that included a trip to the Alamo Bowl, has a program that appears to be on the upswing. The Cyclones will start this season ranked 21st in the nation by the Associated Press.

     “You can definitely tell that guys want to be at practice,” Paddock said. “It makes you want to work, seeing everyone working hard. It’s been good to see the way the culture’s turned around over the past few years, and just knowing everyone’s here for the same purpose. It just gets you in a better mood and wanting to work.”

     Practice has been going well for Paddock, he said.

     “I’ve been hitting the ball well, getting good hang time, direction and distance and all that,” Paddock said. “I do have some improvements I can make, to work on getting a little bit better every day.”

     Though practices can get long, Paddock said the camaraderie between him and the other kickers makes it easier.

     “It’s just being able to know, like, when we have to be serious, be serious, and put our heads down and work,” he said. “But off the field, we like to joke and have a good time together.”

     Paddock is majoring in elementary education. And just as he is motivated by his brother Cameron on the football field, he expects that to carry over into the other aspects of his life.

     “I can see him living through me,” Peyton said. “I’m trying to help continue to leave his legacy. That continues into the future, going into teaching and everything. I’m just trying to make an impact.”



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