MONTVILLE – When Kolt MacCracken committed to Central Connecticut State University last month to attend college and play football, it lifted a burden off his shoulders heavier than one of his power-lifting bench presses.
A two-year journey – from Montville HIgh sub-par junior student to St. Thomas More Prep scholarship awardee to college football preferred walk-on – has been filled with obstacles for the 6-foot-2, 280-pounder. A global pandemic headed the list. There were times when MacCracken wondered if he would ever graduate let alone land in a Division I football program.
MacCracken accepted an offer to reclassify as a junior to STM in 2019 just before his Montville senior year to “maximize his football and academic potential.”
But COVID-19 cancelled New England prep and scholastic football last fall during what was supposed to be MacCracken’s senior season to shine for recruiters. The cost of paying for the non-scholarship portion of the $60,000 St. Thomas More package during a non-football season was a burden MacCracken wanted to spare his family.
“It was a privilege to be a student athlete and be part of the prep regime,” MacCracken said. “But things didn’t look good as far as having a season in 2020, plus the fact my mom’s business closed for four months because of the pandemic, And I didn’t want her to waste her money on tuition if there was not going to be a season.
“I didn’t really have a plan, but things worked out.”
Some questioned his decision to go out on his own. But MacCracken surrounded himself with a support system. He played offensive line for the semi-pro Green Valley Nighthawks of the New England Football League which was coached by current Coast Guard assistant coach Bill Nash. MacKracken created Twitter videos of him power-lifting 600-pound squats and 360-pound bench presses while training with Mike Behrle at Windham County Strength in Canterbury.
“Kolt has come a long way in a lot of ways,” Behrle said. “He dug a hole for himself academically at Montville by not taking school seriously. He’s made some adult decisions and turned things around, including stepping up his powerlifting. He’s the proverbial first one in the room and last one out. In his down time, he’s always doing something to improve himself football-wise.”
MacCracken even played at a national flag football tournament in Florida and trained his nephew for a national U7 flag football tournament. His work ethic and performance for the Danielson-based semi-pro team, which has an alliance with the NCAA, showed Nash that MacCracken was college lineman material.
“The competition in some college levels is not much higher in the trenches than it is here,” Nash said. “Kolt went against 300-ponders who were older and more experienced. He jumped in the fray and handled it well. He didn’t miss practices and was competitive. He’s an impressive young man who earned the respect of older teammates.”
In addition to helping himself on the field, MacCracken also strengthened his academic prowess, gaining the last credits needed for graduation on line through Penn Foster virtual schooling.
He received a number of junior college offers, but when his late academic surge made him eligible for four-year schools, he weighed offers from Division II programs such as Southern Connecticut State and American International, as well as Division I Bryant.
But he decided to go with his first love – CCSU. The Blue Devils’ program is on the upswing, coming off an 11-2 record and 2019 Football Championship Subdivision playoff berth before last fall’s cancelled season.
“I’ve been to Central lineman camp since I was in eighth grade,” MacCracken said. “It’s always been my home-state school. After expressing interest to go there, for a couple of months after graduation, I emailed the offensive line coach and athletic director. They got back to me. The head coach said they wanted to have me. and if I stayed and did the right things, I’d have a chance for a scholarship down the line. It will not be easy playing there but I’m eager to prove myself.”
Central features a veteran starting lineman in 6-2, 320-pound J’Von Brown of Norwich Free Academy. Brown, a preseason All-America last season, will play his final year this fall.
“He’s been like a role model to me,” MacCracken said. “He’s filled me in on the walk-on process and what to expect. Looking at how successful he’s been there coming from the ECC has motivated me to believe I can do it too. I’m definitely happy to have a school that wants me and gives me the opportunity to prove what type of football player I am.”
At Central, MacCracken will study exercise science.
“I’ve always been pretty obsessed with training,” MacCracken said. “Central has what I want to do in life. If I can have fun playing football and gain a life skill, I can’t ask for more. I definitely can’t believe things are working out the way they are. I look at this as a challenge, a chance to show what I’m made of to see if I can make it at Division I.”
On the field, MacCracken made a name for himself at Montville as a 240-pound lineman who made All-ECC as a sophomore and junior. He registered numerous pancake blocks every game, forming a physical two-player wrecking crew on the line with 6-3, 260-pound Tyrone Mack, who was a year older.
The Indians struggled on the field (3-7 record in ’19) with a lack of seasoned skilled players. MacCracken also struggled in the classroom, prompting his move to St. Thomas More.
“I went from 1.3 GPA at Montville to making the Dean’s list (3.7) at St. Thomas More,” MacCracken said. ” It showed myself I can be accountable and I’m not just a dumb jock. You have to put your mind to things and schoolwork is necessary. At prep school, I developed a college mindset to time management and doing things the right way. That was more valuable than any scholarship I could have gotten.”
MacCracken did things his way and landed someplace better than on his feet … at his dream school.
“The way I did it not getting scholarship and walking on is preparing me for how hard it will be when I get to Central,” MacCracken said. “Hopefully I’ll be tough enough when I get there to stick though hard two-a-days and go against players bigger and more talented. Just knowing that things are going to be hard, you’ve got to get through them. If you don’t it’s not the end of the world, but I’m happy to get this opportunity because so many people don’t.”