Flashback: Racer Football's Shane Andrus

MurraySports

 

Andrus did get to dress when the 'Cats played in the Music City Bowl that year. And, his stay at Kentucky had it's lighter moments.

"I hit Coach Mumme in the head with the ball in practice one day," he recalled. "I was practicing the angle out of bounds punt. Coach Bassett started yelling and going off on me, but everybody else was laughing."

Still, in the end, he wanted to come back to Murray.

"I went back up there to start the spring semester," he recalled. "I got up there the first day and I decided I just wanted to come home."

So, Andrus came back home and enrolled for the spring semester at Murray State. He wasn't eligible to play any sport because his grades were too low. But, he talked with Joe Pannunzio, the Racers' new head coach and was assured that he'd have a chance to win a scholarship if he got his grades in order.

After the spring semester Andrus regained his eligibility and the next fall Pannunzio invited him to try out for the team.

"He invited me to come kick and see how I would do," Andrus said. "He didn't offer me a scholarship until he saw me kick; then he offered me a full ride."

Last year, Andrus became the third kicker from Murray High to play at MSU in the 90s as he teamed with former Tiger teammate Greg Miller. Andrus handled the kick-offs while Miller kicked field goals and extra points.

Still, in some ways it was a difficult year for him.

"Last year was kind of an off and on year," he admitted. "I didn't do too well kicking off so I was down. But, I liked Coach P. He's positive about everything. He wasn't hard on me. Whether I did well or not he was always positive.

"But, I had a little run-in with a grad assistant last spring and Coach P. dismissed me from the team. So, I had to start from scratch this fall.".

Andrus could have sulked when he got suspended. He could have transfered again. But, instead, Pannunzio says he grew up.

"I had some problems with Shane last spring," Pannunzio said. "I had to kick him off the football team. His father came and talked to me and he put the onus on Shane and made him grow up. And, he's been a completely different kid since then."

During the offseason Andrus ordered a kicking video and kicked 30 or 40 balls a day, five days a week. That hard work is paying dividends now.

Andrus leads the Ohio Valley Conference in field goals per game and was the I-AA special teams player of the week after kicking four field goals in the Racers' 32-17 victory over Illinois State. And, perhaps for the first time since high school he seems content.

"I like being back at Murray because it's just more convenient," he noted. "I can go to tutoring or practice and get there in five minutes whereas at U.K. I had to walk 15 minutes just to get to my car.

"And, some of our facilities here at Murray State are as good or better than what they have at U.K. The weight room here is probably better than the one they have and the Weaver Center is just as good as anything they have."

Off the field, Andrus and his teammates play video games and last spring he took a trip with three other players.

"I went to Panama City for Spring Break last year with Clay Harrison, Phillip Wasson, and James Bridges. And, I had to sleep on the bed with Bridges (6-2 280 lb. defensive tackle) for a whole week. I was kind of over in my little corner and he had kind of had the whole bed."

Like golfers, kickers become proficient through repitition. And, just like in golf, focus is vitally important.

"Focus is the main thing," Andrus said. "When you get in a game you've got a ball that's hard and thin. It doesn't go as high as a big ball that you'd use in practice. They're just not worn in, they're brand new. And, when you're kicking in the wind you have to really concentrate on your form."

Still, Andrus says he isn't nervous during games.

"Coach P puts so much pressure on me in practice that I don't really get nervous during games," he said. "If I miss a field goal in practice then the whole unit has to run. The last time I missed one we had to run to the movie theater and back."

Andrus' father, Steve, has been a Racer fan for more than 30 years and couldn't be happier to have his son at MSU.

"It's hard to express it. It's a dream come true," he said. "It's amazing how much we take for granted here, though. We're top 35 or 40 in I-AA football. Not many communities can say that. And, in basketball it's that way too. We can walk out our back door and see one of the top teams in the country. We've had so much success here that I think we take it for granted."

When his playing days at Murray State are over, Andrus hopes that he gets an opportunity to continue kicking, but seems prepared for what awaits him if he doesn't.

"I'd like to kick professionally somewhere," he said. "It would be great to get paid to kick. If not I'll have a degree in business management and I can do something with that."

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