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Vancouver College grad kicks at the door of pro football

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Brody McKnight hopes to land a job as a professional place-kicker in the NFL or the CFL
By Nathan Rumohr
The B.C. Catholic
Former University of Montana Grizzlies' kicker Brody McKnight is carried off the field by his teammates after kicking the game-winning field goal against Portland State. McKnight, who strives to be a good role model for fans, said he is inspired by Tim Tebow, the openly Christian New York Jets quarterback. Special to The B.C. Catholic.
The last time a Vancouver College alumnus played in the NFL was in 1948. Now, 64 years later, local kicking phenom Brody McKnight hopes he'll be the first VC grad to follow in Ed Ryan's cleats. (Ryan played offensive end for the Pittsburgh Steelers.)

Already taken in the first round of the CFL draft by the Montreal Alouettes, McKnight hopes an NFL team will draft him when their event is held April 26-28.

"I've wanted to be a professional football player since the fist day I picked up a football," McKnight said, a day after his latest school, the University of Montana, hosted 30 NFL scouts for a skills and workout day.

The kicker was flying high after going 8 for 8 on field goals, which included 2 from 40 and 50 yards and 1 from 60. He also nailed a 50-yard punt to test his leg strength.

"I am very blessed and grateful," McKnight said about his workout. "Scouts are tough guys. You can't mess up, and when you get this opportunity you have to follow through."

Although he had an impressive day (one scout even paid him a rare compliment) the kicker was realistic about his chances of getting drafted by the NFL.

"I would be surprised if I get drafted."

But then he also didn't believe the Montreal Allouettes would pick him in the first round of the CFL draft. A first round selection is rare for kickers because the position isn't considered as important as other positions.

That's not the way McKnight sees it. "I like that kickers can be the determining factor of winning or losing."

McKnight is also known for his work ethic and integrity. While most NFL hopefuls try to impress with their physical talents, McKnight knows character is also very important. He was captain of the University of Montana Grizzlies, which is unusual for a kicker.

"On my resume I told them (scouts) a little about myself. These guys don't get to know you as a person, so if you want to make a quick impact you only have two or three minutes. So I wrote a little paragraph of who I am and said, 'When I wake up I think about football.'"

While dedicated to his craft, McKnight also finds time to think about God.

"On a tough day I'm not going to make all my kicks. It can really stand out. One game I missed two kicks and felt bad, but God doesn't care if I miss or not, He's there no matter what."

The open Christianity of Tim Tebow, the New York Jets quarterback, also inspires McKnight.

"Tebow wants to make faith cool. He doesn't want athletes to feel out of place giving praise to Jesus Christ."

McKnight also credits his faith community at Vancouver College for forming his relationship with Christ.

"That school has prepared me for life. If I went to a public school I wouldn't appreciate life as much. It gets to your soul."

He said he appreciated the way the teachers incorporated faith into their studies. He especially enjoyed his classes with Brother Justin Newman.

"Brother Newman had the craziest course and really rounded me to God. He used The Matrix (movie) to tie in religion."

He also received some solid football advice from another VC alumnus, Cal Murphy. McKnight spoke to Murphy a week before his death.

"He gave me a set of numbers and goals to work towards, percentages, hang times in order to make the NFL."

Specifically Murphy told McKnight to make sure he consistently hit a hang time of 4.2. This is the number of seconds the football remains up in the air after a punt. A number that high allows time to set plays by special teams.

McKnight produced hang times in the high 3s and 4s during his workout with the scouts. "That's been very powerful advice."

McKnight also said he was thankful for his time at the University of Montana. He originally attended Purdue in Indiana, but transferred after a year. However it wasn't just for football. "Montana has the best fly fishing in the world. Whenever I have spare time, I'm on the river."

McKnight knows his road to the NFL will be difficult. He said that even if he makes it, there are still challenges for an NFL kicker. He also knows he needs to stay grounded and rooted in faith to face the adversity that will surely come his way.

He noted it's easy to lose sight of faith and sporting focus when the spotlight of professional football shines on new players. "I have to focus on building a strong foundation in my rookie year and stay strong with God."

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Last Updated on Saturday, 21 April 2012 08:15  

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