How to Become One of the Nation's Best

In high school he was a state champion, an All-Mid-Michigan Conference selection, a quarterback, a linebacker, a school record holding place kicker and also a punter. He dreamed of playing big time football and even of the pros but Chesaning native Adam Anderson was turned down everywhere he went… until WMU.

Adam Anderson's story of how he ended up a Bronco begins with him "coming out of high school I was turned down by five division 2 schools to even walk on." Anderson thought he had lost his dream of continuing in football and playing linebacker in college.

"I didn't want to give up the game," said Anderson. "I've always been a real driven person and I knew I had it in me to be something great, but I wanted it to be at linebacker to be honest. I really thought I could play [linebacker] somewhere and I liked to lift but my size just never came along."

His cause was not lost however. There were some other players from his high school, Chesaning High School, that were recruited to play at WMU so he had friends here and was aware the punting situation at WMU. After talking to the coaches at Western Michigan he realized he had another opportunity.

"They had a spot free up for a punter and I didn't even know where I was going at that point," said Anderson. Then special teams and linebacker coach Kyle Nystrom told Anderson that training camp began in a week and if he wanted to walk on for WMU he was welcome to join the team.

"Growing up I always had a gift to be able to kick the ball but it's something I never concentrated on growing up," added Anderson. His first three seasons at WMU, including his redshirt year, he went through the motions but wasn't able to excel in games the way he did in practice. Teammates and fans had even called him the "best practice punter in the country," but that success in practice turned into punting averages in the 30s on game day.

"I could always hit that big punt one in ten times," said Anderson. "I remember coming into camp my freshman year and coach Darnell said ‘hey, we've got this guy that can hit a seventy yard punt but the rest of them are 30 yarders.'" Anderson said he knew his abilities were there but he just didn't know how to concentrate on them. "I attacked punting the way I had always attacked being a linebacker… I wanted to hit the ball and then run down and cover."

The summer after his sophomore year was when the big change came for Anderson. "In a sense I just gave it to God," said Anderson. "I said ‘God I'm going to step back and let You do with this what You want.' It's not that I'm going to take away from my effort but I'm obviously doing something wrong because I'm trying to do this too much on my own.

"I started doing some things different as far as my procedures and how I got ready. My mental aspect that I carried into the game [was no longer] the kill ‘em type attitude, it was more of a concentrated even keel type of deal."

This season Anderson is averaging 45.6 yards per kick, good enough for seventh in the nation and first in the MAC. That's an improvement over last season when he had nine of twelve games with over a 40-yard average and was selected All-MAC First Team and WMU Special Teams Player of the Year.

After averaging less then 40 yards per kick his redshirt freshman and sophomore seasons Anderson is now among the nation's elite. That improvement has not gone unnoticed by the NFL either. Scouts have been to WMU practices several times this season and most have included Anderson among their players to watch.

"You can see through my statistics that the more I've concentrated on [my punting] the better I've done," said Anderson. "A lot of the credit goes to the coaches too who put hard work into [my punting], and I've had a concentrated effort on punting and not just playing football."

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