The Daily Pennsylvanian asked Penn kicker Dan Karrash 15 questions about football, his time at Penn, and life overall. Here's what the junior had to say.
1. Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Dan Karrash. I’m a junior in the Wharton School concentrating in Finance and Management. I come from a suburb outside of Philadelphia called North Wales, and I went to LaSalle College High School, where I played on the football and baseball team for all four years. I actually started kicking my sophomore year of high school. I was originally a defensive back but ultimately was able to get recruited to UPenn as a kicker on the varsity football team. It’s been a great three years so far and I’m looking forward to the last three semesters.
2. How did you get into kicking, and when did you know you could play college football as a kicker?
I played soccer growing up until I reached high school, and a lot of my friends were like, 'hey, you should try out as the kicker.' I would always take the goal kicks and corner kicks for the premier soccer team I played on. My high school football coach was kind enough to let me kick a few times and he liked what he saw, so I began to transfer my skills making contact with a soccer ball to footballs. I think there are a lot of transferable skills but it’s not the same, so it took a lot of practice and hard work to make the right adjustments. As a senior I became the kickoff kicker, field goal kicker, and punter, and was making good contact with the ball, so I thought I could have a chance playing at the next level.
3. Do you miss anything about the sports you used to play?
I miss the different teamwork attributes that go into the different sports. The unique parts of the game can really hit home to someone. Baseball there’s a lot of behind the scenes and strategical things I miss. Soccer requires great teamwork too, and both are very different compared to football.
4. What have you missed the most about football during the time off?
Just being around the guys on the team and going out there to compete. Seeing everyone involved in our program is something I miss daily. But luckily, starting about two weeks ago, we’ve been able to do workouts in groups of about 20-25, and it's been nice to see different faces, especially freshman and sophomore classes, which I’ve seen less of.
5. Do you anticipate any differences in playing after a year off, maybe the rivalries being more intense?
As a program, we’re really focusing on ourselves and trying to control only what we can control. We know that we’re able to come to the field six days a week and put in the work that is required to win an Ivy League Championship, so we’re really not focusing on other schools.
6. How have you practiced and stayed in shape during COVID-19?
It was definitely very difficult finding fields over the quarantine break because I would travel to one field, get kicked off. Then travel to another field and get kicked off again. So it was really just finding a field that would let me stay on. Also, I was able to train with NFL punter Ryan Winslow, who went to the same high school as me. For the whole Penn team, though, we would have Zoom workouts and video conferences, doing the best we could to show ourselves working out together.
7. Do you have any game day rituals or superstitions?
I’m a firm believer in God, so I always like to read a quick verse or get some prayers in with our prayer chaplin, Reverend Mark Pass, who comes to our games. I also always tuck in laces on my kicking foot: I don’t know why, I just feel like it helps make better contact with the ball.
8. What is your favorite memory from the football team?
I’d have to say my sophomore year against Brown, it was Penn’s 1400th game in school history and Coach P has never lost to Brown. I was put into the game with 2 seconds left and was able to kick the game-winner, in what was actually my first collegiate field goal attempt. That was probably the most exciting moment for me personally, but it was also a great team win, as we had to come together to put off a tough team in Brown that year.
Our win at Harvard two weeks later was also really exciting. [Rory] Starkey’s one-handed touchdown grab in the end zone was awesome, but there’s a lot of great memories.
9. In the context of that game-winner against Brown, how important is it having a coach that trusts you to make that kick?
It really means the world to me, it’s huge. It means something to our entire team when you know you have your coach’s trust and support 100% of the way. I think it’s something that stands out with our team. We have a great coaching staff that puts in the time and effort to make sure everyone’s on board and it’s a game-changing factor.
10. After the Brown game-winner, you also had important kicks that made a difference in the next two games. Are kickers underrated?
I don’t think they’re underrated. I think everyone on the team plays an important part of the team’s overall success at some points. Whether that’s the holder, or the 3rd-string position player, or a player on the kickoff unit, I think everyone has their own unique role on the team. I think everyone has to buy into that in order for the team to ultimately win.
11. What is your favorite sports team to watch?
Growing up in the Philadelphia area, it’s between the Phillies and the Eagles. I was a big baseball fan growing up, and my mom used to take me to a lot of Phillies games. One memory I have is of my mom dangling me over the Phillies dugout to get a signature from [former Phillies manager] Charlie Manuel.
12. Do you have any kicker idols?
My favorite Eagles kicker is Jake Elliott. Watching college football I think one of my favorite talents is Daniel Carlson, now with the Raiders. And from the playoffs and the Super Bowl, Harrison Butker is another great kicker. They’re all great if they’re in the NFL, but it’s fun watching certain guys and their kicking styles.
13. What is your favorite place to eat in Philly?
There are a lot of great food trucks, but in terms of restaurants, I’d have to go with the White Dog Café.
14. Who are your favorite musical artists and which do you listen to before a game?
For country, it’d have to be Kenny Chesney, Chris Stapleton, and Zac Brown Band.
For rap, probably Young Thug, Future, and some Lil Uzi Vert. I like switching it up, but before a game, I’m definitely listening to rap.
15. How do you plan to use your lessons from being a student athlete in your career?
I think it’s very transferable in terms of time management, multitasking, communication and interpersonal skills. Understanding your responsibilities, and not only getting the task in, but making sure whatever assignment or objective that needs to get done is done the right way. I think that a lot of the lessons learned throughout your time being a student athlete at Penn teaches you how to handle different types of problems and work through things that might arise later on in your career path. That kind of stuff starts from the earliest winter mornings with five AM workouts.
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