After signing on with a new agent -- Ferrell Elliott -- just three months earlier, Andrus landed a kicking tryout opportunity with an NFL team.
The Indianapolis Colts' kicker, Mike Vanderjagt, was set to hit the market as an unrestricted free agent on March 3rd. That left the Colts with second-year kicker Dave Rayner -- who finished the season on the practice squad -- and Stephen Scaldaferri -- a former Arena Football and NFL Europe kicker -- who spent last year on the Colts' reserved/non-football injury list.
Andrus wowed the Colts with an impressive tryout that he'll tell you about in part two of this interview that ColtPower will publish on Thursday. He made such an impression that the Colts roster now only reflects two kickers instead of three -- Andrus and Rayner. Scaldaferri, who was under contract through 2007 based on the deal he signed in 2005, has been released according to one report we received.
Since signing with the Colts, Andrus has been busy. He flew to Tampa, Florida to work with a kicking instructor. Then he returned to Louisville to work with a martial arts instructor who is the trainer for Philadelphia Eagles kicker David Akers. He'll continue to work with him until he relocates to Indianapolis in mid-March. Andrus prides himself in being a complete athlete, not just a kicker. He runs a 4.60 forty-yard dash and can do 15 reps of the 225-lb bench press.
The kicker with a big foot may be just what the Colts have been searching for over the past few years as they've had to carry two kickers on the roster -- one to kickoff and one to kick field goals. Andrus is working hard to become yet another "diamond in the rough" player discovered by the Colts out of a small and relatively unknown football program.
I spoke to Shane recently about his personal and kicking background -- and his entire experience trying out for the Colts. In today's article, you'll get to know him and what he's been doing the past couple of years to prepare for this opportunity at the pro level. And on Thursday, in part two of our article -- exclusively for our premium members -- you'll learn how he landed the tryout, and what he did that impressed the Colts enough to be the one selected out of four kickers who worked out that day, including former Colts kicker Martin Grammatica.
Q: Since many of the fans may not be all that familiar with you, what do you think some of your friends would tell me about Shane Andrus as a person?
SA: I'm very competitive and goal-oriented, but very humble. For
example, when I did get signed, I didn't really go around talking about it. I'm
very hard-working. Setting goals and standards for myself has always been a big
part of my success.
Q: Tell us a bit about your family, where you live, and your career outside of football prior to signing with the Colts.
SA: I grew up in Murray, Kentucky and lived there pretty much my whole life except for when I went to the University of Kentucky for a year and a half. My dad owns Pier One Imports in Murray. My parents are divorced, my mom lives in Europe and I have one brother who's 33. I'm basically in a small-town atmosphere and proud I grew up there. It's a good town. I was a mortgage banker, but I've been training the last couple of years, busting my butt in the weight room, still thinking that I'd get the opportunity to be at this level. And I really didn't want to settle for anything less. I moved up to Louisville, Kentucky about two months ago.
Q: Were you continuing to workout primarily at Murray State's facilities or on your own?
SA: Murray State's got an older gym that I like. Not a lot of people
workout in it and I like secluded gyms. I kicked on the main field a couple
times a week and trained on my own, did my own thing.
Q: Tell us a bit about your football career to date. Have you always been a kicker?
SA: No. I actually lettered in four sports. My freshman year in high school I was an All-State baseball player. I hit five homeruns in a row in one game and tied a national record. I also played basketball. In football I was a wide receiver in high school and caught 15 touchdowns in my senior year. I'm a very well-rounded athlete. Kicking just kind of fell into place. I've always been able to kick it out of the end zone and have had a really strong leg. But I wasn't real good at field goals. I couldn't even kick off the ground my freshman year in college at the University of Kentucky. I was actually a punter and a kickoff guy that year. When I transferred to Murray State, the punter there was an All-American, so I knew I wasn't going to punt and I was just going to kickoff. So I knew I had to get better at field goals. I ordered a kicking video and practiced all summer. I kicked off my first year at Murray State, then the next year I also kicked field goals. Then the year after that, we won the conference title with my field goal. I only kicked field goals for two seasons and was named a first-team All-American both years. In 2003, I didn't get to play because I lost that year (of eligibility) because of my transfer from Kentucky. I graduated in May, 2004 with a degree in marketing.
Q: When you decided to go to Murray State, did you hope to be an NFL kicker?
SA: I also played baseball at Murray State for two years. I've always had dreams of playing a pro sport. I never thought anything different. I never thought about a job after college. I've always had my mind on sports. That's why I kept training and training -- to get a shot at that level.
Q: Were you concerned that you might not get noticed enough at a Div II-A school?
SA: That's always been in the back of my mind. That was the only
downfall. You lose a lot of exposure, and that's why I think it took me a couple
of years to get noticed.
Q: How much interest did you draw from NFL scouts during your final year?
SA: None at all. Because I was actually a junior in my last season. There were a few scouts that would come and talk to me, but nothing serious.
Q: Were there areas of your kicking game you worked on that you thought would improve your prospects of getting a chance with an NFL team?
SA: The last couple of years I've been very consistent about going out and kicking. I've been training hard. Lately I've changed my form a little bit. I went down to Atlanta and worked with a kicking trainer for a couple of days on my kickoffs. He helped me out with a few things. My field goals are pretty solid. I've actually improved my kickoffs over the last year -- they've gotten a lot better.
Check back tomorrow for part two of our interview with Shane Andrus. He'll tell you about how he landed the tryout with the Colts, who he competed against, and the results from his outstanding tryout that led the Colts to offer him a contract.