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I can't believe I went all last season without talking to BYU punter Scott Arellano. I discovered last week, when I talked to the senior from Solvang, Calif. (near Santa Barbara) that Arellano is one of the most quotable players on the team.
"Punters and kickers, we are all just mental head cases," Arellano said. "So working on the mental aspect of things has allowed me to accelerate my skills as a punter, and I am very confident with how things have gone this first week of camp."
It's a story about never giving up, despite some rather difficult obstacles.
Head coach Bronco Mendenhall has noticed as well, calling Arellano one of the most responsible and mature players on the team.
"I like Scott a lot. Maturity is always a positive. Experience is a positive. And he has done a really nice job of leadership, so far. And from what I have seen in fall camp, to this point, I am really comfortable with what he is doing," Mendenhall said.
Arellano had a couple punts blocked at the scrimmage last Saturday, and he knows he needs to get them off more quickly. The Cougars were also working on their three-man "shield" of Solomone Kafu, DeOndre Wesley and Brad Wilcox for the first time in camp, and it showed.
Arellano said they will have it nailed down before the opener on Aug. 29. He called last year a learning process as he attempted to replace All-American punter Riley Stephenson.
"I did a lot of good things, had a lot of good things happen, and that's what I need to focus on and think about, because that's what I want to duplicate," he said. "When you focus on what you did badly, more bad things tend to happen. I punted a lot inside our own 50, inside our own 40, even, and I hadn't prepared myself well enough for that to pooch punt as much as we did.
I am not perfectly happy with it, and I really took it to heart this offseason. I feel like I have to prove myself this year."
Special teams coach Kelly Poppinga told me last spring to not be fooled by the fact that Arellano is a punter. Poppinga said he's one of the best athletes on the team.
"So we had a little combine day at the end of spring I guess," Arellano said humbly. "I did very well. I was a top performer in the jumps, and a couple of the short shuttles and stuff. Basically, I went around and said that proves how pointless combines are, because who cares that I broad jump 10 feet, 5 inches? That doesn't mean I am a better football player than a single person on the team. Yes, I am a good athlete, but I am still just a punter."