His father played linebacker at Cornell. His uncle was an All-American wide receiver at Harvard.
Naturally, Connor Loftus became a kicker.
It sounds like the premise of an offbeat sitcom, in which his family frequently makes jokes about masculinity and pride at Connor’s expense.
In actuality, Loftus has received nothing but support from his family since he started playing at seven years old. In fact, his older brother Mike is also a kicker at Southern Methodist.
While they’re firmly entrenched in the game now, their path wasn’t always so clear — in part due to the tears that literally fogged their vision.
“We grew up playing soccer,” Loftus said. “And one day, my dad came and he said, ‘We’re trying football.’ And we were crying, really upset.”
Once Loftus started, he was hooked. And very early on, his parents thought it would be a good idea for the brothers to start learning to kick, considering their background in soccer.
“For a few years, we were just doing it for fun, since it was a great bonding experience, going out to the field every day, just screwing around,” Loftus said. “Once we started going to camps, we realized we were pretty good at this, probably around sixth grade.”
Despite the time Loftus spent on the kicking unit, he still played numerous other positions. On the competitive football squad at Servite High School in Anaheim, Calif., Loftus played quarterback and safety, as well as running back.
With his brother two years ahead of him, Loftus played safety for the first two years in high school while still continuing to work on his kicking. Only after his brother graduated did he become a kicker full time.
“It was always difficult, playing both safety and kicking,” Loftus said. “The coaches were always worried about injuries.”
By the time Loftus became the starting kicker, he discovered that injuries weren’t the only thing he had to worry about.
Though for the most part Loftus didn’t receive any flack for being a kicker, when he did hear criticism, he handled it as if it were a 30-yard chip shot.
“A guy came up to me one day, laughing about how I wasn’t a real player and all that,” Loftus said. “So, I bet him that I could squat more than he could.
“And I was right.”
While the transition toward specializing as a kicker is a tough one, since arriving at Penn, “it’s been easy,” Loftus said.
“The coaches are great,” he said. “And punter Scott Lopano really took me under his wing and showed me what being a kicker/punter at Penn was all about.”
Last season, Loftus made 9-of-15 field goals, with a long of 44 yards, which he’s done twice, against Princeton and Dartmouth.
Coming into this year, Loftus feels more comfortable, knowing what it’s like kicking in some of the Ivy League’s ancient stadiums. Last week against Dartmouth, he split the uprights twice in Penn’s win.
No matter how much success he has, though, his older brother will always keep him grounded.
“He’ll always have those two years on me,” Loftus said.
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