Written in October, 2001
Time was when most kickers were little guys with foriegn accents. But, with the growing popularity of soccer in the United States that's changed. So, while most kickers still get their early training in soccer, they're far more likely to speak with a southern accent than a European one.
And, kickers are also more likely to be well rounded athletes than they were in the old days. Such is definitely the case with Murray State's Shane Andrus, who was a four-sport star at Murray High.
Although Andrus first learned to kick by playing soccer, he abandoned the sport for football after his sophomore year in high school.
"It was just too hard, trying to play football and soccer," Andrus said. "So after my sophomore year I concentrated on football. I played wide receiver, defensive back, punter, and kicker, all that stuff."
Rick Fisher, Andrus' high school football coach emphasizes that he was an athlete and a competitor, not just a kicker.
"The thing that was so great about Shane was that he became a complete player," Fisher said. "He was a weapon as a kicker, but he could catch anything you threw at him and he ended up All-West Ky. Conference at wide-receiver as well as kicker. He's a super athlete and he could beat you in ping-pong, kicking, baseball -- anything he did."
As successful as he was at football, Andrus was probably better at baseball than anything else. While at Murray High, he once hit five consecutive home runs, one short of the national record. And, was one of only two first region players named to the All-State team as a senior.
But, by the beginning of his senior year it was apparent that Andrus would become the seventh kicker from Murray High to play college football.
"Most every OVC school was wanting me," he recalled. "Western really wanted me, and Indiana called right at the end. There were a couple of pretty big schools that were talking to me. Illinois was interested. But they had a kicker, and it's hard to get offered a full ride coming from Western Kentucky and trying to go big time."
MSU's head coach at the time, Denver Johnson didn't express an interest in Andrus until midway through his senior year. But, it probably wouldn't have made any difference if the Racers had gotten involved earlier because Andrus was a blue-to-the-bone Kentucky fan. And when the Wildcats offered him the opportunity to walk on he jumped at it.
"I was always a Kentucky fan," Andrus said. "Basketball, football, everything. I grew up on it. They offered me preferred walk-on status. I had always wanted to go to Kentucky and I wanted to get away from home, so I kind of liked everything about it."
Unfortunately, things didn't work out as well as he
had hoped in Lexington. Andrus left Murray two days after graduation so that
he could take a couple of summer school classes at U.K. But, he was homesick
and he didn't work out much during the summer. Then, he missed two-a-days in
order to visit Murray which did not endear him to the coaches and put him even
further behind Kentucky's other kickers.
"When I went back I had to start over," Andrus said. "I didn't want to work as hard, coming from high school where we didn't have to work hard. But, when you get to college you figure out how much dedication you have to have, and I had to learn the hard way. I got up there and I worked out with the varsity. But I wasn't happy and it was reflected in my kicking. My mind wasn't anywhere near where it should be."