Oct. 24—Dean Faithfull is believed to be the oldest college football player in the country.
And he's in our backyard at Colorado State University Pueblo.
From Fareham, Hampshire, England, the 34-year-old Faithfull is a senior place kicker for the ThunderWolves. He kicks extra points and field goals and performs kickoffs.
A former soccer player who played four seasons at Florida Tech University, Faithfull went on to play for a number of professional teams before hooking up with CSU Pueblo.
Not only that, his powerful leg may open up an opportunity to kick professionally, if that opportunity comes.
Faithfull explained how he ended up in Pueblo.
"I played soccer all my life," he said. "I ended up playing around the world for a few years. I happened to visit my old coach in Florida and he told me Florida Tech needs a kicker, are you interested? At first, I laughed.
"I never played the game before. I watched the game when I lived five years in Florida. I had a tryout the next day and Florida Tech wanted to take me on, offered me a scholarship. The plan was to come back in the summer, train and learn the fundamentals.
"Unfortunately, Florida Tech cancelled their (football) program. I was home in the summer and I tried to find another way. Luckily, CSU Pueblo became an option. And I'm grateful to be here."
CSU Pueblo head football coach John Wristen recalled how Faithfull ended up on campus.
"It was funny, our (CSU Pueblo) soccer coach Oliver Twelvetrees (from England) had a relationship with him," CSU Pueblo head football coach John Wristen said. "And when we hired Oliver, that led to the connection.
"He was out in Florida and we were able to connect the dots and saw some ability and wanted him to come and compete for a field goal spot."
Not knowing the game of American football, Faithfull began studying.
"I spent a year in England on rugby fields. trying to learn the game, watching film, other kickers, really trying invest everything I could to learn the game," Faithfull said. "When I got here is when I learned the necessary skills with a snapper and holder, I had to learn those kind of things.
"I've worked every day. It's been my focus and priority. I feel like I'm there now with the coaches help and the team's help. It's been a long journey, an interesting journey."
Almost twice the age of some of his teammates, Faithfull just wanted to fit in from the beginning.
"They keep me young," he said. "I love being around the boys. They are young, fit, want to achieve, to be successful. I'm lucky to be surrounded by around those people. I'm grateful to be surrounded by all these boys hungry for success. It keeps me young.
"There were moments when it was a little strange, especially when I first came I just wanted to be part of the boys. I didn't want to be the old man. I wanted to fit in. One of my good friends says I camouflage well. I feel like I have a lot to give. Age is not a factor."
Faithfull will graduate in December with a master's degree in business.
"I always wanted to stay in school," he said. "I love soccer but I don't miss it any more. I love being a kicker and being part of the team.
"The one thing about being 34 I don't take a moment for granted. I'm emotional after every game because it's one less game. I don't take a second for granted."
Faithfull booted a 67-yard field goal in practice and the video was shared widely on Twitter.
"Obviously, it was a great feeling. I knew I had it in me," Faithfull said. "I'd love to have a chance to do that in a game in a pressure situation. To do it in front of the boys, it was nice to see them react. If I can focus on what I call my 3 1/2 yards between me and the ball. If I can do that right, hopefully I can be successful for the team."
He believes a 70-yard field goal is attainable.
"For sure. I think the record in NCAA is 69," he said. "I'd love to be able to break that if I get the chance. It's only a matter of time that we see a 70-yarder in the NFL if they get an opportunity. I think we'll see Justin Tucker's (66-yard) record be broken, sooner than later."
Faithfull has aspirations of kicking in the NFL.
Yes, it's a goal of mine, it's a big goal," he said. "I'm a positive person and I'm going to give it my all if that time comes. If it doesn't happen, I can say I gave it my all. Right now I'm focusing on the team, be successful here first."
Wristen feels blessed to have such a mature, high-character player in his program.
"We're lucky to have Dean and his maturity and coming over and not ever playing American football," Wristen said. "He played the other football.
"Dean has had growth in understanding what in meant to be the field goal kicker. That growth had to come with maturity and sometimes Coach Wristen was kind of hard on him. He's handled it in a very professional manner. He's a hard worker.
"He's been able to have a lot of success because of his ability and work ethic. He's a joy to be around. It's taken a while to develop that chemistry. I don't think it just happens. He talks a little funny, too. He's got a great spirit and I value him being a great team member for us."
Wristen also believes Faithfull has a chance to get a tryout and perhaps kick in the NFL.
"I coached (Green Bay) kicker Mason Crosby at the University of Colorado," Wristen said. "Dean has as much talent and ability as Crosby."
Chieftain senior sports reporter Jeff Letofsky can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @jeffletofsky