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Niagara Falls' Kyle DeWeen perseveres to win UB punting job

Punter Kyle DeWeen is another example of a University at Buffalo football player who wouldn’t take no for an answer.

When DeWeen came out of Niagara Falls High School in 2013, a kicking consultant told him he was shooting too high in pursuing a Division I football offer. You might want to look at Division III.

DeWeen had no college offers. At 6-foot, 187 pounds, he wasn’t blessed with great size. His technique was raw.

“I was determined,” DeWeen said. “I had seen myself punt good. I thought I could do better than just settling for D-3 right away, not that there’s anything wrong with Division III. I decided I’m going to give it a shot and if it doesn’t work out, at least I tried.”

Three years and a lot of hard work later, DeWeen has won UB’s starting punter job.

“It’s been a long journey,” DeWeen said as he prepared for UB’s season-opener Friday evening against Albany.

DeWeen started his college career as the place-kicker for Erie Community College in the fall of 2013. He made a 52-yarder and earned all-star honors, but he always felt he had more potential as a punter.

That season he started training with former UB place-kicker Adam Tanalski, a Hamburg resident who operates the Hammer Kicking Academy and runs kicking and punting camps all across the country.

“The first time I met him, he improved everything I did,” DeWeen said. “That’s my guy. He runs my training.”

“Kyle had very poor technique when I first met him,” Tanalski said. “But I told him, ‘You’re a born punter.’ He has taken the time to work on it. He’s a fourth-year junior now. He’s been around the block.”

Tanalski works with both UB place-kicker Adam Mitcheson and UB long-snapper Corbin Grassman, and Tanalski alerted UB to Mitcheson as a recruiting prospect three years ago.

DeWeen spent a semester at Florida International as a preferred walk-on but then came home for family reasons. He spent last season finishing some classes at Erie CC and working on his technique with Tanalski.

“One of the problems at FIU was they said I was very slow with my operation time,” DeWeen said. “They wanted fast operation. That’s something I’ve worked on the past year and a half, getting the ball out as smooth as possible.”

DeWeen walked on at UB in January and this summer beat out freshman scholarship punter Taylor Sheets for the job. UB still thinks Sheets has a bright future. He’s going to handle kickoffs to open the season, and DeWeen’s emergence takes some of the pressure off Sheets’ adjustment to college.

“For someone of his caliber to walk off the street to UB – and they had no idea he was coming – they got lucky,” Tanalski said.

Punting figures to be of heightened importance to UB this season because the Bulls don’t look like they have the offensive experience and firepower to match the more potent of their Mid-American Conference rivals. UB’s experienced defense can use all the field-position help it can get.

“I’m very fortunate they gave me an opportunity, and I’ve tried to run with it,” DeWeen said. “I don’t have the biggest leg, but I try to be consistent and put it where they want it.”

“Kyle’s drop, which is the most important part of your punt, is so good,” Tanalski said. “It’s consistent. I train probably 1,400 people a year. What we look for in a drop is for it to fall flat, for it to fall in the same location every time and fall at a slight nose-down angle. Kyle has worked so hard to repeat his motion and repeat the consistency of the location and the ball, he’s turned himself into a special punter.”

Email: mgaughan@buffnews.com

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