Cade York has never been one to feel too riled up on a football field.
It's not who he is, and it's definitely not his preferred approach when he's preparing to kick a football. York learned how to stay calm and collected in front of 100,000 fans every Saturday at LSU, and his easy-going mental makeup — and consistency on all things kicking — was why the Browns deemed him worthy of a fourth-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
"It's part of the gig," York said with Nathan Zegura on “Browns Live: Meet the Rookies.” "It's a mindset, kind of locking in, I guess. There are times when I won't be a calm person and will kind of take up the room, but when you're a kicker, you can't always do that. You kind of have to find the balance."
York was mostly on the calm side in Baton Rouge, where he converted 33-of-39 field goals in the final two of his three years and drilled 15-of-19 career field attempts of 50 or more yards. He was the top-ranked kicking prospect by most draft analysts for the 2022 draft class, and the Browns believe his powerful leg and relaxed mind when he's behind the ball will lead to a long future of kicking in the often-windy conditions at FirstEnergy Stadium.
York revealed a few interesting tidbits about his mental approach in his interview with Zegura. After what York called an "OK" freshman season at LSU, he began to focus more on becoming a pro in the mental side of kicking his sophomore season. It helped that he had a year of kicking in front of rowdy SEC fans under his belt, and with the help of his long snapper and holder, he was able to nail down a rhythm that put his mind at ease before he swung his leg.
"You don't give your head space to think about anything else besides what you have to say in your head, so it doesn't bring any negative thoughts or positive thoughts," York said. "You just let your body take over."
Check out photos of all the Browns rookies in Cleveland — and catch them live on 'Browns Live: Meet the Rookies' on May 18
The mental ease allowed York to be able to consistently repeat his kicking motion and strike the ball in the sweet spot. After converting 77.8 percent of his field goals as a freshman, he nailed 85.7 percent of his kicks as a sophomore and 83.3 percent as a senior.
His biggest field goal, perhaps, was a 57-yard game-winner against Florida on a foggy night in Gainesville.
His reaction after the kick — when he ran toward the end zone and then the LSU sideline mimicking the famed Gator chomp — was one of the few times York snapped out of his state of calmness, but who could blame him?
"It was kind of surreal in the moment," he said. "You don't necessarily realize it, but once you move on from that moment, you realize that's what people are going to ask me about for the rest of my life: Either kicking, or LSU. I realized, 'OK, I have a shot at this.'"
The "shot" turned into a real opportunity in Cleveland. The Browns drafted York 124th overall, the highest a kicker had been drafted since 2016, and he knows that his mental makeup was a huge part of it.
The key now is to maintain it in the difficult kicking conditions by Lake Erie. York spoke to Browns legend Phil Dawson, who spent 14 years in Cleveland, a week after he was drafted, and Dawson told him to get used to the ball not always going directly through the middle of the uprights when the gusts are high.
But that wasn't anything that caught York off-guard. That mentality was already a part of his overall approach.
"In college, I maybe hit my best ball 15-20 percent of the time," he said. "You want it to be as often as you can, but what I have to do is make my "B" ball, which is not my best ball but still a good ball, has to be made every single kick it goes out for.
"To someone who doesn't know much about kicking, they might not even notice a difference. But for me, especially in practice, I'm not just looking to see if it goes in or not. I'm looking at whether I liked the ball I actually hit and whether it will go in for every kick."
York has always had the leg to get the ball to the goal-posts — he said he's been able to kick 60-yard field goals since high school — but the improvements in his mind are why he was able to land within the top 125 picks of the draft class.
A new type of pressure, though, is now ahead of him. Kicking on an NFL stage and doing it in Northeast Ohio is no easy task, but being cool and calm is the only way York knows how to feel when he's in the spotlight.
Nothing phased him in LSU, and he's ready to prove nothing will phase him in Cleveland, either.
"With this mental cadence, I've accepted the idea that pressure is a privilege," he said. "Not everybody gets to have these opportunities to be on the Cleveland Browns. Honestly, when it's pretty loud, it sounds like white noise, and I kind of love it. It's easier than crickets. I've played at LSU with 105,000 people, so there's not many NFL stadiums that are competing with that. I know that Browns fans are crazy, and I'm excited about that."