Brett Angel has the perfect background to be coaching football at Dean College.
The 6-foot-1, 290-pounder starred at guard and tackle for four years at Millis High, where he was a two-time Tri Valley League all-star. After graduating in 2007, Angel enrolled at Dean and didn’t waste any time piling up accolades. He was an all-star choice twice in the Northeast Football Conference, and he also was named an all-American by the National Junior College Athletic Association.
Angel then earned a scholarship to Northern Michigan and he often started for the Wildcats both years, playing guard, center and fullback.
“I’ve got no regrets with the way my football career has unfolded,’’ the 24-year-old Angel said. “Last year, I coached the defensive line at Dean, and this year I’m working as offensive line coach and also the strength and conditioning coach. I played for (head coach) Todd Vasey at Dean, and now it’s a pleasure to work on his staff. He’s a great motivator, and he demands discipline.’’
Angel was a success at all levels on the gridiron, but winning seasons didn’t come easy. At Millis, he labored through four losing campaigns. Dean was a winning venue and at Northern Michigan, he played on a pair of 6-4 squads.
“My best effort in high school came in my first game as a senior, playing for new coach Dale Olmsted,’’ Angel recalled. “We beat Archbishop Williams, 2-0, and I blocked a field goal attempt as time was running out. I also had a good game in the line on offense and defense.’’
Olmsted still remembers that game vividly.
“I couldn’t watch the kick, so I focused on our opponent’s bench,’’ Olmsted said. “Brett was truly a special player — a leader who was knowledgeable, strong and talented.’’
After dominating at Dean, Angel transitioned quickly to roles at guard, center and fullback at Northern Michigan, a Division 2 university that plays in the Great Lakes Athletic Conference against the likes of Michigan Tech, Findlay (Ohio), Saginaw, Grand Valley and Wayne State.
“I had a good outing against Findlay in my junior year at Northern,’’ Angel said. “I was the lead blocker in the backfield from my fullback slot. I had a decent day blocking their linebackers.’’
Angel’s size and ability could have led him to an NFL draft combo his senior year, but a nagging back injury got in the way.
“Thinking about getting a shot at the NFL always was in the back of my mind,’’ Angel noted. “But, I had back issues that limited me. I decided to focus more on academics.’’
Angel plans to continue working diligently at Dean, imparting all kinds of knowledge to young and upcoming offensive linemen.
“Brett was part of two bowl teams at Dean,’’ Vasey said. “He’s a great role model for the current players. He coordinates film video and also works on the players’ strength and conditioning. He’s in his third year with us, and he’s doing a great job.’’
So far, Dean players have learned their lessons well, compiling a 5-2 record after seven games.
Angel hopes to someday become a position coach and a strength and conditioning coach at the Division 1 level. “That’s my goal, and we’ll see what happens,’’ Angel said.
For the present, however, Angel will teach the attributes that he relied on for success. Things like mental toughness, passion for the game, sound technique and playing in pain. He’ll also emulate coaches like Olmsted, Chuck Grant (Millis A.D.) and Vasey.
“Coach Olmsted helped me a lot, especially with my college decisions, and Chuck enabled me to learn about being mentally tough,’’ Angel emphasized. “Todd tries to help his former players by adding them to his staff. He also is respected by so many people.’’
Now living in Franklin and coaching in familiar territory, Angel is taking advantage of his degree in physical education, and his future no doubt will involve some big challenges that likely will unfold at big-time college venues.
Brett Angel will be prepared.