Senior placekicker Brandon McManus is the football team’s leading scorer. By the end of this season, he’ll most likely be the program’s all-time leading scorer.
One of eight specialists in the country who handles all kicking duties for his team, McManus leads the Big East Conference in punt average (44.7 yards) and is tied for first in field goals made per game (1.43). He has been named Big East Specialist of the Week three times and was named the College Football Performance National Specialist of the Week on Oct. 14 after he kicked a game-winning field goal to beat Connecticut in overtime the day before.
However, the highest honor McManus received this year wasn’t for the contributions he provides as kicker and punter of the football team, but for the service he has helped dedicate to the North Philadelphia community.
McManus was named to the 2012 Allstate American Football Coaches Association Good Works team in September. One of college football’s most prestigious off-the-field honors, the Good Works team is made up of 11 FBS football student-athletes who have provided outstanding community service.
McManus, who’s a part of a family of four in Hatfield, Pa., said his privileged background is what drives him to help others who are less fortunate.
“I come from a family where I have everything,” McManus said. “It’s definitely different coming here and seeing the struggles that people go through. Being here really helps you see how blessed and fortunate you are. I think a lot of people feel entitled. We have a free education and we play football here at this great university. To give back really shows character.”
McManus participated in 11 community service events sponsored by the football team in the 2011–12 academic year, the most of anyone on the team. He was a part of annual events such as the Thanksgiving food drive, Diamond Street clean-up and Read Across America, as well as numerous hospital visits and Ronald McDonald House visits.
McManus was project manager for the 2011 Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure event held at the Philadelphia Art Museum. McManus and teammates worked in tents and helped hand out water bottles for the event, which raises money for breast cancer awareness.
McManus said Race for the Cure is his favorite event that he’s volunteered at. Two of his aunts have been diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I got to work with so many neat people,” McManus said. “I really enjoyed the project and seeing everyone’s faces and how blessed they were to have us helping there.”
One player is nominated by coaches from every team in the country for the Good Works award. Coach Steve Addazio selected McManus because he had done the most for his community, Addazio said.
“We’ve got some really good guys here, good people,” Addazio said. “They want to do things. They want to help. They want to make a difference. That’s the really cool part.”
McManus didn’t have any prior history of community service before arriving at Temple as a freshman in 2009. Temple’s coach at the time, Al Golden, implemented a system of community outreach with the football team and inspired McManus, among others, to help out.
“[Golden’s] idea was that we have to give back to this community,” McManus said. “We’re here in the city and we’re all around the struggle. Not only has the community gotten better, but the university itself.”
“In addition to giving back to the community and helping others less fortunate, there are great benefits of the overall development of the student-athlete,” Golden said. “It teaches them life skills and gratitude as opposed to entitlement.”
Prior to Golden’s arrival at Temple in 2006, the football team’s community outreach program was non-existent. Golden said he instituted this service as a way to promote the idea of Temple football despite the team’s lack of success on the field.
“I think it ingratiated a program that disappointed so many for so long it endeared them and embraced us in the community,” Golden said. “People knew that we were an organization that wanted to build roots in Philadelphia and wanted to give back.”
The program Golden built is now one of the most recognized in the country. McManus was the third Owl in as many years to be named to the Good Works team. Wayne Tribue received the honor in 2011 and Amara Kamara won the award in 2010. Temple is the only school in the country to receive three consecutive Good Works awards.
“I think [Golden] did a great job of promoting it, and obviously we’re trying to promote it because we think it’s got really great value,” Addazio said. “Other places do a lot too, but we do a lot here and I think it’s tremendous. It’s what it’s all about.”
McManus said the idea of community service is a collective goal, and it would be remiss to recognize him and not honor the program or his other teammates who help out.
“I wouldn’t say I’m any different than these guys,” McManus said. “We all go out and put as much time as we can out there. I like to go out as much as possible. I like to do as much as I can.”
Joey Cranney can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @joey_cranney.