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Hedlund thriving under North Texas football culture

Hedlund thriving under North Texas football culture

Hedlund thriving under North Texas football culture
November 15
12:25 2018

On Sep. 9, 2017, boos rang out from the home crowd at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium as senior kicker Cole Hedlund missed a 20-yard field goal during the third quarter of the Arkansas-Texas Christian game.

This was Hedlund’s second miss in the game, with the other missed field goal attempt being from 23 yards. Razorback fans immediately went to Twitter and started blasting the former Arkansas student-athlete.

Twitter user @JoshBrown tweeted, “Okay…I don’t care anymore. Cole Hedlund, quit football,” and @dmcmickle tweeted, “I would tell Cole Hedlund to kick rocks, but he would miss them, too.”

Former Arkansas head coach Brett Bielema immediately stated in the post-game press conference that Hedlund would be replaced as starting kicker.

“After that game it was a matter of me wanting to find a way to bounce back and redeem myself,” Hedlund said.

Hedlund would never attempt another field goal for the Arkansas Razorbacks. He graduated with his bachelor’s degree and still had one more season of eligibility left to kick. However, Hedlund wasn’t sure about pursuing his final year of college football.

“After that season I was undecided on my decision,” Hedlund said. “I love to compete and play football and love to kick, so it would’ve been hard to give it all up without trying to give it another shot.”

As Hedlund looked for graduate programs around the country, an opportunity opened up at UNT, just 10 miles from where he graduated high school. Hedlund decided he wanted to give college football one last season at a place near his family, where his dad has been the head women’s soccer coach since its inception in 1995.

“I grew up being a fan of North Texas,” Hedlund said. “My dad has coached here for the longest time, so having my family here for support has been great. It really is an honor to play for a school that is basically in my backyard.”

Coming into the 2018 season, the Mean Green were needing to fill a spot at kicker after Trevor Moore wrapped up his career following last season. Moore finished his career breaking 12 different records in program history.

Hedlund arrived at North Texas before the 2018 season, and special teams coordinator Marty Biagi said Hedlund’s work ethic and consistency stuck out to him the moment Hedlund stepped on campus.

“Once he got here, I was able to see his commitment to his work, and I thought he would be a pretty good fit,” Biagi said. “Consistency is the No. 1 thing he impresses me with. He’s very even keel — he doesn’t get too excited and doesn’t get too low, so he takes a lot of pride in trying to be consistent and mastering his craft.”

Hedlund started his career at North Texas with a perfect week, going four-for-four on field goals and four-for-four on extra points in the Week 1 46-23 win over metroplex rival Southern Methodist.

Two weeks later, Hedlund was able to return to Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, this time as a member of the Mean Green and an opponent of Arkansas. In his return, Hedlund went three-for-three on field goals and five-for-five in extra points to help his team earn a 44-17 victory over the Razorbacks.

“It definitely felt good, and I think there was definitely a little more emotion tied to that game,” Hedlund said. “It was fun playing against my old teammates and getting a big win.”

Through the first three games, Hedlund was 10-for-10 on field goals and 16-for-16 on extra points. He is currently 16-for-19 (84.2 percent) on field goals — the highest of his collegiate career by more than 20 percent on more than 10 attempts.

“I think [Biagi] has done a great job with him,” head coach Seth Littrell said. “I think he feels very comfortable. We have a lot of confidence in him, and he’s done a great job of going out there, getting outside distractions out of the way and doing the best he can. He’s done well.”

Hedlund said Littrell and his staff have instilled a culture that makes everyone on the team feel as if they are in a family.

“I think the environment here with coaches and teammates is more of a relaxed and have-fun mentality,” Hedlund said. “But at the same time, we are always serious when it comes time to get to work.”

Featured Image: North Texas kicker Cole Hedlund practices Tuesday and Apogee Stadium. Jeff Woo/Courtesy DRC

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Bronte Hermesmeyer

Bronte Hermesmeyer

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