‘You are never good enough when you dream of being the greatest.’ That is the motto of Mike McCabe. At one time he was considered the number one punter in college football despite playing for 1-AA Illinois State. Injury kept him from fulfilling his dream of playing in the pros but it also brought him to his destiny of becoming arguably the top kicking coach in the country today. McCabe, now 40, is a coach in demand, and he’s about to make the biggest move of his life.
McCabe played for Hamilton (Ohio) Badin High School were he was an All-State punter after averaging 47 yards per punt as a senior. He went on to play for Illinois State. His position coach was none other than Urban Meyer. There, he was a four-year starter and as a senior he led all of college football in punting with a 44.1 yard per average and was named to every All-American list in 1988. During his first training camp in the NFL for the Chicago Bears McCabe became their No. 1 punter before suffering a torn Achilles during the later part of training camp in the pre-season. He rehabbed for a year and played for Barcelona and then had tryouts with the Dolphins and Cowboys before hanging it up.
But it was during those tough moments before he called it quits when he knew what he had to do. McCabe knew he had to stay in the game but this time he would become a teacher.
“God picked me to become a coach,” proclaimed McCabe. “It was a spiritual thing and kids are my passion, football is my passion, kicking is my passion. It’s not about the money. It’s about working with the kids. It’s so fun watching them develop, earn scholarships and becoming All-Americans or turning pro. For me, there really is no better gift in the world than seeing those things happen.”
In 2000 McCabe started One On One Kicking in Hollywood, Florida. Using the Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade Madonna Prep facilities he quickly gained the reputation of being one of the top coaches in his field, not just in South Florida or the Sunshine State, but across the country.
“Mike has a huge commitment with these kids,” said Coach Mark Guandolo of Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade Madonna Prep. “He has such a big love for kids and he has a great reputation. It’s like a father-son relationship and he can also be a ball buster. He works his kids hard.”
McCabe has helped develop Donnie Jones (Miami Dolphins), Freddie Capshaw (Arizona Cardinals), Louis Zerlanga (San Francisco 49ers), Eric Wilbur (Florida Gators), David Simonoff (SE Missouri), and Pat McAffee (West Virginia), just to name a few. As you can see, McCabe has helped train punters and kickers over the past few years the college coaches have taken notice and his reputation has taken off. This summer McCabe coached at camps at Miami, Florida, and Tennessee and next year he is already booked at Central Florida, Miami, Florida, Alabama, Auburn, Oklahoma and West Virginia. “I heard of Coach McCabe because I recruit south Florida,” said Eddie Gran, Running Backs Coach and Special Teams Coach at Auburn. “I heard through word of mouth that he was good and they were right. Mike has been there and done that. He’s a good teacher. I know he worked with one of our guys and did a super job.”
Each of the last six seasons One on One kicking has quickly grown to were they are currently, where they are working with 67 punters and kickers, mainly local prospects from South Florida up to Tampa and Ocala and as far south as the Keys. He also works with some of the region’s best and nation’s top talent. This season’s No. 1 punter, Chas Henry (Dallas, Ga.) has had the opportunity to now work with McCabe on about a half-dozen occasions. “He (McCabe) is awesome,” said Henry. “He finds your flaws and then coaches you. It’s not something he fixes overnight but if you do what he says and keep working then all of sudden it kicks in. All you have to do is listen to him and put in the work. Coach McCabe really knows what to do.”
Chas Henry is the nation's top punter and has trained with coach McCabe.
McCabe credits much of his knowledge of punting and kicking to coach Meyer, his position coach while in college. He also adheres to a philosophy that he believes in deeply. “If you are going to be an athlete you better train like one,” explains McCabe. “You have to train with discipline and character. Much of what I do is teaching muscle memory and we speed train and lift weights (with Ultimate Sports Fitness in Weston, Fla.). But perhaps the most important thing a kicker must have is mental toughness and we put them through drills that really cooks them.”
For McCabe and his company, they currently hold two kicking expos (January and May) in South Florida but are about to expand. McCabe will move to Prattville (Ala.) this Friday, where he will help out Prattville High School, one of the state’s top schools, in kicking and punting. But also living in Alabama will make him centrally located to scout, evaluate and develop more punters and kickers.
“I met coach McCabe through some college coaches,” said Bill Clark of Prattville (Ala.) High School. “We like what he does with these kids and he is a great coach and we are always looking for great coaches. Mike is very organized and also intense. He puts these kickers in game situations and that’s tough to do but he’s very good at it.”
In addition, McCabe and One on One Kicking, have been a scouting partner with Scout.com and have been essential in their punter and kicker rankings. “We teamed with coach McCabe because he is the best around,” said Scott Kennedy, National Combine Director.
Mike McCabe is a hot coaching commodity right now and One on One Kicking is getting bigger and better. McCabe is on the move to Alabama and each day he works his motto - ‘You are never good enough when you dream of being the greatest.’ Maybe he didn’t turn out to be the next Ray Guy or Adam Vinatieri. But who knows, McCabe could certainly develop the next one.
Note - Click on the link below to see Scout.com's Punter and Kicker Rankings.