It’s a kicker thing
Off the field, USF placekicker Emilio Nadelman is king of the pingpong table.
On the sideline, he’s the smack talker in everybody’s ear.
When he’s needed to put points on the board, he’s Mr. Consistent.
“From 55-and-in, he can go knock it in,” special teams coach Justin Burke said of Nadelman. “I don’t think anybody on this team would doubt that he would go in and bang that thing through. I think he’d say that, too.”
In 2016, Nadelman made every field goal he attempted. In 2017, he’d be 11-for-11 if it wasn’t for a blocked field goal attempt against Illinois.
In high school, Nadelman nailed three game-winning field goals in two years on varsity at Miami Central. In the 2012 state championship game, he closed his senior season with a three-field-goal night.
It’s as if putting the ball through the uprights comes as second nature for the fifth-year senior, just like giving his teammates a hard time does.
“Ok, Ok, Ok… So, how’s it feel to be one of the nation’s leading scorers… as a kicker?” wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling asks in an "interview" with Emilio after practice.
With no answer to the question, Nadelman replies, smirking, “Hey man, you gave me a penalty last game, I’m not gonna talk to…”
The smirk quickly changes to a laugh that cuts off the rest of the answer. Then, the two shake hands and the joke — one of many on a daily basis — is complete.
“It’s good to have a guy who comes to work and is happy, excited and talks a bunch of junk out on the field (to his teammates),” Burke said.
“Every day he talks junk to somebody, everybody. He’s a Miami boy, that’s just how they do it, especially with coach Strong. Those two go back and forth and it’s pretty entertaining.”
Standing confidently at 5-foot-6, Nadelman hasn’t had a game-on-the-line kicking situation at USF yet, but when the time comes, everybody — including himself — knows he’ll be ready.
“The thing about Emilio is he’s really calm and he has a lot of confidence,” Burke said. “With a kicker, sometimes those guys can be head cases, but he’s extremely confident. If he misses one, he’s going to hit the next 10.”
For Nadelman, being a part of USF football is more than just jokes and winning. It’s the same as being a part of a family.
“I think just being in the locker room with the guys — camp, summer workouts,” Nadelman said. “I’ve seen the team come together, so I think just bonding with all the guys will be what I miss the most (after this season). Our bond is so close, it’s like a family. This is my family.”
As far as USF family members go, Nadelman and cornerback Deatrick Nichols are like brothers as the two were teammates on the 2012 Miami Central High School team that won the 6-A State Championship.
“I like to mess with him (Nichols) all the time and he messes with me back,” Nadelman said. “I’ll beat ‘em up in ping pong every once in a while… We have a great bond. That’s my guy.”
Having graduated from Miami Central in 2013, Nadelman was at USF for a year while Nichols was still in high school.
“Of course (I gave him a call to come to USF),” Nadelman said. “That was part of the process, trying to get as much guys as I could up here. He was a great fit for the program, I mean, you see what he’s done.”
Nichols, now a senior, has had two interceptions and six pass breakups through the season’s first five games and has aspirations of making it into the NFL after the 2017 season.
Likewise, Nadelman’s ultimate goal is to make it into the NFL, but if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen.
Whatever does, though, is in God’s hands, according to Nadelman. Currently majoring in Communications, if football doesn’t work out, he hopes to become a sports psychologist.
When he’s not practicing his field goals and kickoffs, he’s scoring goals in FIFA 18.
If he’s not playing FIFA, he’s eating home cooked meals made by his mom or grandma.
Or playing ping-pong. He is the king, after all.
“I don’t want any part of (playing Nadelman in ping-pong) … I’ll embarrass myself,” Burke said.
“We have ping-pong and pool in the locker room, so that’s what we do,” Nadelman said. “We play each other in tournaments.”
“And who wins those tournaments?”
Laughing and shrugging at the same time, Nadelman replied, “You’re talking to the king.”