A Purdue intramural flag football player’s self-proclaimed “worthless” talent earned him the No. 1 spot on SportsCenter’s Top Plays segment on Thursday.
Brady Cronk, a junior in the College of Education, received national recognition for his behind-the-back, 30-yard touchdown pass during the Sour Lemons’ 31-7 Men’s Open League victory on Sunday.
“About every hour about 10 until the next hour, I turn it on ESPN just to watch it because it’s on Top Plays again,” Cronk said. “I’ve seen it like, seven times now. It’s pretty crazy. I love the fact that the ESPN anchors are saying ‘The Sour Lemons.’”
Cronk’s teammates had been pressuring him to throw a behind-the-back pass the entire intramural season, but Cronk wanted to make sure the game was out of reach before attempting the trick play.
The perfect opportunity arose when the Sour Lemons gained possession of the ball with a 24-7 lead and less than a minute left in their regular season finale Sunday.
“I finally said, ‘let’s do it’,” Cronk said. “I didn’t know it was going to work.”
Cronk’s spiral hit teammate Drake Barrett in stride in the end zone for a touchdown. Cronk said he would hit that same pass eight or nine times out of 10.
“If I’m standing in the end zone, he’ll throw it right on the money,” Barrett said. “I think he throws it harder behind his back (than forward).”
Cronk didn’t even know the play was being filmed until after the play was over.
“At first, I was just happy we completed the pass,” Cronk said. “I was ecstatic that we actually scored. Then, one of my teammates told me it was on camera. All of us freaked out and went up to the Intramural Sports guy and told him we had to have that film.”
Intramural Sports posted the video on YouTube Wednesday night, and Cronk’s roommate, Purdue punter Cody Webster, tweeted the link to SportsCenter. ESPN responded within ten minutes to ask for Cronk’s permission to show the clip on its nightly Top 10 Plays spot.
“I gained 45 Twitter followers within 12 hours,” Cronk said. “One of my friends from Utah called me, I’ve got friends in San Diego who watched it ... it’s unreal.”
Cronk said he’s been doing tricks with footballs,
including throwing the ball behind his back, for as long as he can remember. He can also spin a football on his finger and roll it up his arm.
“One day, I threw the ball behind my back and realized I was kind of accurate,” Cronk said. “I just refined my approach and it became easy. Then, I started working on accuracy. I started throwing at trees behind my back, I’d throw at wheelbarrows and have my little brother and sister running routes.”
Brian Moore, Cronk’s football coach at Seeger High School, said Cronk used to throw footballs behind his back before practice with amazing arm strength and accuracy.
“He always had a rocket of an arm anyway, but behind the back ... wow,” Moore said. “If he would have done that in a game, because it was the only way to get the ball off, I would have loved it. Plus, I would have maybe gotten some ESPN air time too. If he would have done it just to do it, I would have not been as loving.”
Cronk said he will never throw another behind-the-back pass in an organized football game again.
“I threw it one time ever, we caught it, it happened to be on film, I happen to live with Cody Webster, Purdue’s punter, I’m on SportsCenter’s Top Plays, and I’m number one,” Cronk said. “I’m going to walk away right there.”