During last week’s Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn, a local celebrity returned to his roots to participate in a charity golf event.
Ryan Succop, a former kicker for the Hickory Red Tornadoes and South Carolina Gamecocks, was one of a few celebrities to play in the Dale Jarrett Shootout.
Before the event got under way, O-N-E Sports Editor Cody Dalton sat down with Succop and interviewed him on a variety of topics.
Q: What has the journey been like going from Hickory High School a few years ago to the University of South Carolina and now to the NFL?
A: “It has really been a dream come true. I’ve been extremely blessed to play in high school, have a scholarship at South Carolina and from there, get an opportunity to play in the NFL. It is a tremendous blessing. It is a dream come true. It is something you always dream of when you are little. You work toward it and when it actually comes to fruition, it is unbelievable.”
Q: You were drafted as “Mr. Irrelevant” with the 256th and last pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. Does that motivate you when you go out on the field?
A: “It does a little bit. There is a stigma of ‘you aren’t going to be any good’ or ‘you aren’t going to make the team’ that comes with ‘Mr. Irrelevant.’ I never really look at it as a bad thing. I looked at it as being great because it gave me the opportunity to make the team and play in the NFL. Kickers typically aren’t drafted anyways. It was a blessing. I feel very fortunate to just to have an opportunity.”
Q: The big topic out in the mainstream now is the NFL labor situation. What have you been doing in your free time since the labor situation has been going on?
A: “Right now, my offseason has been no different than if I were back in Kansas City training with the team. I am running, lifting, kicking, working out and training five days a week. That is exactly what I would be doing if I were back in Kansas City. I am really approaching it as continuing to work and be ready to go whenever they get us called back.”
Q: What is your whole take on the NFL labor situation?
A: “I’m not too involved with it. I am just excited to be getting back on the field and playing.”
Q: You own the NFL rookie record for field goal percentage by a kicker (86.2 percent). A lot of kickers in their first year seem to get nervous and shank quite a few kicks. What does that record mean to you?
A: “That was incredible. It was something I didn’t even realize. After the last game, someone from the Chiefs’ PR staff came up to me and told me that I set an NFL record. I was just thinking, ‘wow.’ What was unique about that season was in the big games we had, we were able to get big kicks to win the game or big kicks to set up victories. That was what was exciting about that year were the games that I was able to contribute and help the team as much as possible. That was definitely exciting.”
Q: Barring what happens with the labor situation, the Chiefs won their first division title since 2003 and were in the playoffs. From what you see now, what do you think this team is capable of this year?
“I am really excited. I think all the guys in our locker room are excited because they know we have the opportunity to do something special. We are a young team with a lot of talent. We want to go out, win the NFC West again and go as far as we can.”