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Dowagiac native kicks his way to MSU

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- A Dowagiac native kicked his way out of Michiana all the way to the spotlight in East Lansing. Michigan State player Brett Scanlon grew up attending Notre Dame games in South Bend and will now play against the team on his home field.

"I remember my first football game ever was actually Michigan State vs Notre Dame. That was just a neat experience and now to actually play in this game and be part of it, is a dream come true," Scanlon said.

In 2003, the Spartans beat the Irish 22-16. As Scanlon sat in the stands, he had no idea he would eventually play in this same match up 14 years later.

It was a long road getting to East Lansing.

Scanlon played quarterback, linebacker and kicker for Dowagiac Union High School, but his foot got him out of Dowagiac and onto the next level.

He was a 3-time All State kicker and a 5-Star prospect.

He still holds the chieftains record with a 55-yarder- the longest in school history.

"The ability to punt and kick like Brett does, I haven't seen in my lifetime out of a high school athlete," said Mike Stanger, Dowagiac head coach.

Scanlon was being recruited at programs around the country and accepted a scholarship to Western Michigan.

As a sophomore, he averaged 61.5 yards on 77 kickoffs in 2014.

But something just didn't feel right in Kalamazoo and Scanlon decided to transfer to Michigan State.

"It was a really tough decision, at the time Western just really wasn't the place for me. I was fortunate enough to have Coach Staten and Coach D and they gave me the opportunity to walk on here and I just jumped on that," said Scanlon.

Coach D is Head Coach Mark Dantonio and Coach Staten is Offensive Line and Assistant Head Coach Mark Staten.

Staten is also a Dowagiac native.

"His dad and my dad and even my grandpa and his dad, they go way back and even Coach Staten's dad coached me a little bit at Dowagiac. But as far as helping me get here, that was a lot of Coach Staten. If he wasn't here, I probably wouldn't be here," Scanlon said.

Staten helped open the door, but Scanlon has had to earn his opportunity.

He sat out in 2015 with the NCAA transfer rules, and worked primarily on scout team in 2016.

Now, he finally has his shot at some real playing time as the Spartans starter on kickoffs.

"Kicking the ball out of the end zone and keeping it away from the returner and helping our defense out with good field position. But at the end of the day, honestly I just want to help my team in any way that I can," Scanlon said.

In two games this season, Scanlon is averaging 61.5 yards per kickoff with two touchbacks.

"He's solid, he's a team guy, he's got toughness and he's a big competitor," Coach Dantonio said.

This weekend, Scanlon has his opportunity to kickoff against Notre Dame with friends, family and the whole country watching.

"Just thankful to have a big group of friends who back me. I know a lot of them are Notre Dame fans and a lot of them are Michigan State fans and so it should be interesting," Scanlon said.

The Chieftains connection doesn't end with just Staten and Scanlon. Cody Cox is a 2010 Dowagiac High School graduate and he's now the Assistant Director of Operations for the Michigan State football program."

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