BEREA, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – With new sod growing in on the practice fields and no goalposts available, Cade York went to FirstEnergy Stadium Friday morning to kick on his new home field for the first time.
Prior to making the trip as rookie minicamp kicked off in Berea, York consulted with one of the best to ever do it in Cleveland – Phil Dawson.
“He kinda went through some of the stuff that he did, plant cleats, talked about the wind a little bit, different types of conditions,” York said. “Everyone has their own style of going about things, but it was cool to pick his brain about a few things.”
The two spoke a week ago for nearly 40 minutes as Dawson walked York through the intricacies of kicking down by the lake.
“He just mentioned that yeah, there are going to be days that are tough,” York said. “You just gotta go out there and hit a true ball. You gotta be OK with not hitting it right down the middle every time, just have confidence in what you do and not every kick is going to be the same.”
Over his 14 seasons with the Browns, Dawson was meticulous in his approach.
Dawson kept a diary of every kick that included the distance, field and weather conditions which helped him master the unpredictable weather and he had more cleats in his locker than many of his teammates did.
Unlike Dawson, who came to Cleveland in 1999 as a tryout player, the Browns picked York in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft, and they are counting on him to solidify the position for years to come.
“I definitely am a perfectionist to a certain degree,” York said. “But you also have to be happy with results. If you have a bad kick that still goes in, be happy with it. If you hit a good kick that doesn't go in, at least you hit a good ball, you know you're not messing up that bad, it's just something off. You just got to accept it and move on.”
The former soccer center back turned placekicker impressed the Browns with his big leg and accuracy at LSU that saw him make 54 of 66 field goals, including 15 from beyond 50 yards, and 164 of 168 PATs.
His career-long 57-yarder, which set a school record, came in the fog on December 12, 2020, to beat then No. 6 Florida State 37-34.
One of Dawson’s most famous kicks came in a blizzard against the Bills on December 16, 2007 that saw him somehow boomerang one into the wind 48 yards off the stanchion. Dawson also punched one through from 35 yards in the 8-0 victory.
In retirement, Dawson is the head football coach at Hyde Park High School in Austin, Texas.
York was able to get an appreciation from Dawson, who made 84% of his field goals with the Browns, for what he’ll experience in Cleveland, home to one of the most loyal and rabid fan bases in the NFL.
“He definitely talked about how Cleveland can be either an amazing place to play or a hard place to play if you're not doing what you're supposed to do and how you basically gotta block it out because everyone has bad days,” York said. “Even Phil had bad days. So you gotta just play to the best of your ability and not worry too much about the fans. But it's also a great place to play, just like college honestly. Because Baton Rouge if I wasn't doing well, they were going to let me know.”