Drew O’Cain always admired legendary kicker Adam Vinatieri for his ability to come through in the clutch, his legacy forever marked by two Super Bowl-winning boots for the New England Patriots.
O’Cain, a 2008 Colorado Springs Christian School graduate, has another reason to admire Vinatieri, and it has nothing to do with his on-the-field heroics. This time, the Indianapolis Colts kicker delivered a game-winner without ever swinging his famed right foot.
At the beginning of an 18-month rehabilitation journey after suffering a serious knee injury Nov. 3 while kicking for Evangel (Mo.) University, O’Cain received a gift from the Colts. It was a signed “get-well ball” from Vinatieri.
Apparently, he knew O’Cain was a big fan.
“To Drew. Keep working. Get well soon,” reads the entry in silver ink, also signed by the kicker.
“That was a pretty cool experience, receiving that,” O’Cain said, a day before returning to the Springfield, Mo., campus for his final months of undergraduate work toward his bachelor’s degree in business administration. “It was sent from the Colts, and I know it’s authentic. He’s clutch, and I really have liked his humility. I really admire him.”
Perhaps the power of social media helped O’Cain. After surgery at the esteemed Steadman Clinic in Vail, O’Cain underwent his initial recovery and physical therapy work at a table with a signed Vinatieri jersey on the adjacent wall. Vinatieri, whose Colts travel to Baltimore in the wild-card round of the playoffs Sunday, is one of many to have had surgery at the clinic.
O’Cain had a photo snapped and posted it on his Facebook page.
“I guess the Colts saw the picture,” O’Cain said. “Honestly, I don’t know how it all happened. Adam came from a small school, and I go to a small school, so maybe that had something to do with it.”
O’Cain starred at CSCS, earning all-state honors as a kicker and punter. He originally signed with Southern Mississippi, was redshirted in 2008 and transferred to Evangel.
“Drew was a really good player for us,” said Paul Passno, who coached the Lions from 2001-08. “He could have been a position player. But he was such a good kicker, we didn’t want him to get hurt playing another position because he was that valuable to us.”
But injury eventually found O’Cain in Evangel’s second-to-last game. Attempting a 56-yard field goal in the closing seconds of the first half in a 14-14 tie against Missouri Valley, his right-footed follow-through met a charging defender.
The damage: a torn ACL, MCL and a split meniscus. Due to the injury, O’Cain had to put potential professional hopes on hold by canceling two NFL regional combines.
Still, he’s trying to use some Vinatieri-type humility to see the big picture.
“I love the sport, but I’m not identified through it,” O’Cain said. “It has been emotional, and it’s something I’ve had to let go of for the time being. Sports have taught me a lot about life, from work ethic to learning to overcome situations. I’m confident that things will work out.”