GW Graham grad booting balls for UBC football

Spencer Breslin is in the mix to kick field goals and punts for the U-Sports Thunderbirds.

The big right leg of Spencer Breslin is taking him to the U-Sports level this fall with the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds.

The GW Graham grad worked out for the T-Birds in late May, kicking in front of UBC recruiting coordinator and special teams coach, Paul Orazietti.

“First I did punting, maybe 20 of them, followed by kickoffs, testing me for hang time and distance,” Breslin explained. “They finished with field goals, which is my strong suit, and I went nine-for-nine.

“They did 25 yards, left-middle-right, 35 yards, left-middle-right and 45 yards, left-middle-right.”

UBC head coach Blake Nill watched from the sidelines, met Breslin when he was done and extended an offer for him to come to fall camp and compete with two other kickers.

The 18 year old had workouts scheduled at other schools, but cancelled them all once UBC made an offer.

“My goal from day one has been to play football at UBC,” Breslin said. “It’s close to home and I love the campus.”

“They (UBC) have two other kickers, and I know one of them is going into year three or four, but I’m confident in my ability to compete with anyone.”

Incumbent kicker Greg Hutchins was 18 of 28 (64 per cent) on field goals last year.

“From what I understand they want at least 75 per cent on field goals, but I’ve heard he’s also a really good punter,” Breslin said. “This will be a little different for me because I’ve never had much competition and always been ‘the guy’ kicking in high school.

“It’ll be good having to actually compete. It’ll make me better and show how good I can become.”

On a sunny, crisp weekday morning at GW Graham, Breslin boomed punts into the air while coach Duncan O’Mahoney watched. O’Mahoney is a UBC grad and a former pro who kicked from 2001-07 with the Canadian Football League’s Calgary Stampeders and B.C. Lions.

He and Breslin have been working to fine-tune the teenager’s mechanics.

“One punt for instance involves your shoulder, elbows and wrists,” O’Mahoney mused. “You’re using your ankle, knee and hip on one leg to plant and your ankle, knee and hip on the other leg rotating. It’s every lever in your body with a lot of moving parts.

“Kicking is a lot like golf where it’s a single repetition that you do over and over and over again.

“Some people have a lot of genetic ability, but they don’t have the mechanical control or knowledge to replicate a kick time and time again.

“That’s what Spencer’s starting to do.”

If he has a weakness, it’s his punting. Some kicks fly straight and true and some do not.

O’Mahoney preaches the concept of ‘good misses.’

In the past, Breslin’s mechanics were shaky enough that a missed kick would be a horrible 15 yard shank or slice.

He’s honed his form enough now that he can get away with a minor mechanical miscue and still hit it well.

“I have a few things I go over in my head before each kick,” Breslin said. “A big thing for me is kicking ‘smooth.’ because when I try to go too fast or too slow and sluggish, that’s when I make mistakes and the mechanics break down.”

A huge part of kicking is mental. When the outcome of a game rests on his foot, Breslin needs to feel confident that he’ll succeed.

Like a goaltender in hockey or a quarterback in football, kickers are quickly replaced if they wilt under pressure.

“As a kicker you want the game to come down to that, to have that opportunity to win a game,” Breslin said. “You know you’ve done it a million times on the practice field and now it’s a matter of bringing it over into the game and having confidence when you find yourself in that position.”

Easy to say. Much harder to do.

In a preseason game last year, kicking for the Grizzlies, Breslin missed an early convert attempt.

“Usually I’m pretty good hitting those and the whole game after that I was shaky,” Breslin recalled. “I let it get into my head and it was a big learning experience.

“You’ve just got to let it go, forget about it and move on to the next one.”

It is likely that Breslin will have to ‘red-shirt’ this season, working out with the team but not dressing for games.

It’s a matter of a teenager competing against men, needing to build up strength.

But when his time comes, he feels he’ll be ready.

“I’m going to get stronger which will only make me better,” he said. “I know I can already compete at the next level in place-kicking.

“With punting it’s just going to be putting in reps to be more consistent. That’s what I think I need and I’m confident I’ll get there soon.”

Just Posted

Jordyn Huitema and Canadian nationals second at 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Championship

The Chilliwack teenager was among the tournament’s scoring leaders with four goals.

Chilliwack vacant homeowners could be hit with speculation tax

Municipality included although Cultus Lake and Chilliwack River Valley excluded

Chilliwack soccer stars help Coastal FC win national title

The team beat Ontario’s Burlington Bayhawks in the U-17 Cup final.

Drugs and cash seized by Chilliwack RCMP

One man was arrested and drugs were seized in the early hours of Oct. 12, police said

Heavy turnout at advance poll in Chilliwack

Some voters waited as long as two hours

Fashion Fridays: You can never have enough shoes

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Vancouver Island homeowners buy more earthquake insurance than the rest of B.C.

Insurance Bureau of Canada says that’s because the perception of risk is greater on the Island

Man shot to death while using Lower Mainland ATM

Police believe incident on Thursday night to be targeted

Jets score 3 late goals to beat Canucks 4-1

Winnipeg ends three-game Vancouver win streak

Two B.C. cannabis dispensaries raided on legalization day

Port Alberni dispensaries ticketed for “unlawful sale” of cannabis

Canada not sending anyone to Saudi business summit

Sources insist Ottawa never intended to dispatch a delegation this time around

Earthquake early-warning sensors installed off coast of B.C.

The first-of-its kind warning sensors are developed by Ocean Networks Canada

VPD ordered to co-operate with B.C. police watchdog probe

According to the IIO, a court is ordering Vancouver police to co-operate with an investigation into a fatal shooting

B.C. woman looks to reduce stigma surrounding weed-smoking moms

Shannon Chiarenza, a Vancouver mom of two, started to act as a guide for newcomers to legal cannabis, specifically mothers

Most Read