Gameday Feature Story
by Tim Jones, Sport & Recreation Management Master's '13
Temple kicker Brandon McManus
provides more than a Lou Groza Award-caliber leg to the Owls. The senior from Hatfield, Pa., also remains a steady veteran presence for the team on and off the field.
Earlier this fall McManus was named to the 2012 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team as one of college football's top difference-makers off the gridiron. He was one of only 11 FBS student-athletes to receive the award. At the awards ceremony at Edberg-Olson Hall, McManus received a surprise visit from a couple of familiar faces: his parents, who made the trip from the family's home in suburban Philadelphia.
“I had no idea they were coming, but my dad never brings his cell phone in with him to work, and I had texted him that morning letting him know that one of the articles about my award was in the newspaper in case he wanted to grab it,” said McManus. “He responded back to me, so I thought that was a little weird, but I didn't know that he was here. It was really neat being able to share that experience with them.”
Parental support has been a constant in McManus' life. His parents were athletes – father Dennis was a wrestler and soccer player, mother Susan was a member of Philadelphia University's tennis and basketball teams – and they introduced him to sports at an early age.
“My parents always said when I was younger, for Christmas I always wanted a ball of any kind so I could just throw it around the house.”
Year after year Christmas shopping was easy for Dennis and Susan's younger child – older sister, Lauren, was a soccer player at Slippery Rock University. Eventually these gifts led McManus to the fields of his middle school.
“I played football for my middle school where I was quarterback, safety and also kicked and punted. I stopped playing soccer in ninth grade when the varsity team called me up to play football even though I was still technically in middle school.”
In addition to athletics, his parents introduced the importance of helping others at an early age. While mom and dad helped teach him how to help others, it wasn't until he arrived at Temple that he became incredibly active in the community.
“We donated clothes to the Salvation Army regularly. But when I got to Temple, community service was really emphasized by [former Temple] Coach Golden to get out in the community. You can see it in the streets around campus that help is needed. I really wanted to step up in that aspect.”
While Coach Golden and McManus' family-oriented background led him to an enhanced role in the Philadelphia-area non-profit world, he also genuinely enjoyed his time working with those associated with these good causes.
“You don't do it for the awards, but it's always good to get recognized for the things you do. I really enjoy going out in the community and helping the needy. I'm blessed with a good family, and that's not the case for everyone. In fact, some don't even have food on their plate every night.”
McManus participated in 11 different community service events during the 2011-12 academic year, but one stands out as his favorite: the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. The cause hits home for McManus, because two aunts have battled the disease and have won.
“There are people in my family who unfortunately have the disease, so that makes it all the more impactful. It's on Mother's Day, too; even though I never get to spend it with my mom, just seeing everyone out there supporting the cause is truly amazing.”
In addition to teaching their children the importance of giving back, the McManuses support their children in their athletic endeavors the best they can. This fall, they ensured that the entire family would be able to watch Brandon play, purchasing 22 season tickets for the 2012 season.
“They're all for family. My dad has an RV and brings it down to every game. He always tries to be the first one in the parking lot when the gates open; he gets pretty mad if he's not the first one. I've really got a great support system in my family and I'm blessed that so many people make the trip down to support me.”
McManus sees familiar faces in the crowd even at road games. In fact, his parents have only missed one game in his four-year career: at Miami of Ohio during his freshman season.
“They've flown all over. I can't thank them enough for the support they've shown for me over my four years.”
On the field, Brandon's no slouch. He's chasing down Temple's career scoring title – he needs just 27 points to catch Bernard Pierce
on the all-time list. In addition, he's a vital piece of the Owls' attack.
“He's invaluable from the standpoint that he's heavily involved with everything we do kicking-wise,” said special teams coordinator Sean McGowan. “He's got a great knowledge-base schematically for what's going on. He'll come in here and watch film on his own. He's really into it from that standpoint. You can't put a number to field position, and he has a huge impact on that.”
Head coach Steve Addazio agrees.
“I brought a kicker to media day, I don't know what I'm doing,” joked Addazio in introducing McManus to the BIG EAST media in July. “It goes against everything I stand for, because I'm an offensive line guy. (But) that kicker is one tough guy. He might be the toughest player on our football team.”
With half a season yet to play, McManus is focused on the season. But when it's over, he has several goals. For the long-term, he wants to be an orthopedic surgeon. But instead of working on medical school applications, something else occupies his mind.
“My first goal is making it to the NFL; obviously that's a huge dream of mine. I haven't worked on applications or anything this year, because I totally want to focus on this season and the possibility of making it to the NFL. There's always time for me to come back and go to medical school.”
In his road to becoming an NFL kicker, McManus will likely face adversity at times. Many kickers have a winding road to the league and the stability provided by his family will help McManus through these times.
But if the NFL doesn't pan out, McManus has a very solid back-up plan and the family support to boot.
While McManus is proud of his accomplishments on the field, he's even more proud of his work off the field. He hopes that they both will be his legacy at Temple.
While his coaches are thrilled with his work on the gridiron, they also recognize and appreciate the impact he makes off the field.
“Off the field, he's really, really impressive,” McGowan said. “He's a great kid that's incredibly well-rounded. He's going to be a college graduate here soon and he's going to go on to do great things. We've been fortunate to have him.”
It's safe to say that the entire Philadelphia community is fortunate to have known him.