It’s not always easy being a football kicker.
It’s often been said being the team’s go-to for crucial points is the “loneliest position on the field.”
Fort Hays State University senior Brandon Brown found that out when he transferred to FHSU last fall from Diablo Valley College in California before the season.
The converted soccer player — in just his third year of kicking a football — admits it was difficult for him to adjust to Hays after the move.
Yet, he was able to find significant success.
As a junior for the Tigers in 2016, he turned in one of the most successful seasons in FHSU history.
And now, he said, it’s like he’s a completely different part of this team.
After staying in Hays this offseason, he was able to build a bond with the Tigers, and he no longer feels like an outcast, a stigma often associated with kickers.
“Building a bond between my teammates and I,” the senior said of the difference in his attitude in his final campaign. “It’s tough as a kicker to build relationships with some people.”
That changed, though, this season and he’s seen as more part of the team than “just the kicker.”
“I’m definitely taking it more serious,” Brown said. “I’m also looking at my brothers next to me. The support they give me is huge. It wasn’t there last season.”
Members of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association recognized Brown this week, naming him the Special Teams Player of the Week following his 6-of-6 point-after effort and his two made field goals helped the Tigers’ 48-7 season-opening victory against Missouri Southern State University.
“I’m a lot more focused,” Brown said of this season. “I’ll go back and watch the film from last season and I will literally look at my steps. It’s small steps that matter.”
In just one year, Brown already owns the FHSU single-season record for made field goals (16), field goal attempts (24) and kicking points (88).
FHSU seventh-year head coach Chris Brown said if you didn’t know Brandon Brown was a kicker, you probably wouldn’t suspect it.
“He’s always been really competitive, pretty fiery and full of energy,” the coach said. “He loves the game. He doesn’t seem so much a kicker, he’s an athlete. He competes day in and day out to make himself better.”
And that hasn’t been a task that’s come easy. Given how the wind shifts — especially at Lewis Field Stadium and in Kansas in general — becoming more knowledgeable about the intricacies of kicking have been a challenge.
“The wind fluctuates all the time,” Brandon Brown said. “I’m more used to slight breezes (in California). When it’s at your back (here), the ball flies.”
Brandon Brown converted on 39- and 36-yard field goals Thursday, and was perfect on PATs, but he also was successful on kickoffs as well. The senior had a pooch kick that as recovered by FHSU that led to a score.
“He made every kick we asked him to make in that game,” Coach Brown said. “If we wanted it out of the end zone, he got it out of the end zone. If we wanted a pooch kick, he made the pooch kick.
“He made all of his extra points and both field goals. That’s what we ask him to do, and that’s his job,” the coach added. “He did very well at it. Hopefully he can improve on that, and help us out when we need it.”