Record-breaking kicker is vying for soccer player job at UConn

STORRS — As fall training for UConn football began Friday, Joe McFadden, the starting kicker for the Huskies in 2021, underwent surgery for a cruciate ligament tear in his kickbone.

McFadden injured his leg during the team’s last offseason practice session, opening the door for the next man already firmly established in Connecticut history books.

Noe Ruelas broke Connecticut’s high school record for longest field goal in September 2019 when he kicked a 56-yarder for Hall High School in West Hartford. This year he is in position to take over as a starter for UConn.

The loss of McFadden, who made 12 of his 17 field goal attempts and 19 extra point attempts last year while on kickoff and punting duties, leaves a void Ruelas is confident he can fill.

“I’m just trying to do what’s best to help this team win,” said Ruelas, who also had a 52-yard field goal in high school. “I know Joe is out and he has been a huge asset to this team as well as a great teammate and competitor. I hope he gets better soon, but I’m ready to help this team win wherever I can.”

Ruelas, a sophomore, didn’t get any in-game action last fall, instead using the time to up his game in hopes of landing the starting job.

“You really can’t be disappointed because college football is a business,” Ruelas said. “So all you have to do is hone your craft and do what you can. I wanted to stay here and do my best to compete.”

The 6-foot-1 Ruelas, who was raised in Colorado before moving to West Hartford before his sophomore year of high school, caught the attention of his new coaching staff in the spring and made a lasting impression on coach Jim Mora.

As spring drew to a close, Mora was confident that Ruelas “can kick anywhere” and was “glad he’s with us”.

Now in his first full week of training, Ruelas continues to inspire confidence in his coaching staff and team-mates.

“Today we went through a phase called the Red Zone Lockout where we’re scoring points and the kickers become very important to earn points,” said Mora, whose Huskies are playing Aug. 27 in Utah State. “I wanted to see Noe (Ruelas) go out and bury her today and he did.

“The most important thing is that the ball goes through the post,” said Mora. “They’re going through right now, so I’m excited about that.”

Will.Aldam@hearstmediat.com; @AldamWill

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