Scanlon fits into Broncos’ plans

Published 8:41 pm Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Brett Scanlon, left, is seen here signing his national letter of intent to play football at Western Michigan. He is seen here with father John Scanlon. (Leader photo/File)

Brett Scanlon, left, is seen here signing his national letter of intent to play football at Western Michigan. He is seen here with father John Scanlon. (Leader photo/File)

KALAMAZOO — After a long, hard practice last Saturday, you would expect Brett Scanlon to rest or hang out with some friends.

Instead, the Dowagiac Union High School product had other responsibilities. The Western Michigan University freshman had to put on a suit and tie for a football media guide picture.

“It was definitely the first time I had to do that,” said Scanlon about dressing up after football practice.

“It’s an exciting time. I’m just grateful for the opportunity to be here with a great program like Western Michigan and play for a great group of teammates and great new coaching staff.”

Scanlon, who was a standout kicker, punter, linebacker and quarterback for Dowagiac, began his collegiate football career on Aug. 4. He signed with the Broncos on Feb. 27.

“I’d have to say first and foremost, I’ve really enjoyed being around my teammates. From the first day, they took me in and all the other freshmen and made us feel part of the family. I already feel like I’ve been here for four years.”

For the moment, Scanlon just has the responsibility of being a kicker for the football team.

First-year football coach P.J. Fleck likes what he sees from Scanlon’s leg.

“Huge leg,” said Fleck. “But, like any placekicker the difference when you use a tee in high school to when you come to college is the initial height right away. He’s got the leg to do it, but right now it’s going to be getting the height. It’s something he has to continue to work on. He’s only been kicking off the ground for a few months. But he’s making huge strides. He’s a wonderful kid. He’s strong and you might see him on our kickoff this year. He’s a guy that can give us an advantage there and a guy that can put the ball out of the end zone. That’s a huge weapon these days.”

Scanlon understands the work he needs to do to become a better placekicker.

“I’m refining my technique and being as consistent as possible,” Scanlon said.

Improving as a kicker is just one of many adjustments that Scanlon has to make in his transition as a college football player.

“I’d probably say the biggest adjustment is that the game is so much quicker at the college level,” Scanlon said. “We practiced fast in high school, but this is a whole new level. The way coach Fleck runs our practices everything is fast and quick. It takes a little while to get used to, but I think I’ve gotten used to it and I’m excited.

“We have a great special teams coach (J.B. Gibboney). He works the heck out of us every practice. We’re never standing around.”

Fleck was asked if Scanlon’s role could expand in the future.

“I think he’s a wonderful athlete,” the new Broncos coach said. “You look at him and he’s jacked up. I like that. I like that he’s got muscle on him. His body is important to him. He likes being an athlete. I think you’re going to see us being a little bit more creative with him as we go forward. I wouldn’t be shocked if you see him at different positions.”

Scanlon thinks he has the perfect head coach to guide him into being a solid college football player.

“It’s been great,” Scanlon said. “Our theme is to be ‘elite’ everyday on and off the football field mentally and physically. I truly believe (Fleck) is going to push me to get the very best out of me. I love it.”

Academically, Scanlon plans on majoring in biomedical sciences. He’s already started to prepare himself for the academic challenges that await him at Western Michigan.

“Time management is important,” Scanlon said. “I’ve already had a couple of summer courses. In high school, maybe, you’d get away with not reading a chapter in a book. Here, you’ve got to stay on top of stuff like that. You have to keep your priorities straight. I start off with chemistry and calculus classes. It will be a challenge, but I think I’m up for it.”