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Superhuman?

Dan Nolan
07/26/2011
“Monmouth quarterback Alex Tanney and show host Daniel Browning Smith chat while a cameraman readies for the next shot. Tanney will be featured in the next season of the History Channel’s “Stan Lee’s Superhumans.”
A trick-shot video on YouTube last spring has taught Monmouth College quarterback Alex Tanney a valuable lesson -- even the smallest of ventures can turn into a big business. What started as a challenge from a former teammate has landed Tanney, who also happens to be a business major, on the History Channel.

Monmouth’s sports information office was contacted during the summer by representatives from the History Channel who were hoping to feature Tanney in the second season of “Stan Lee’s Superhumans.” The show travels the globe in search of people with extraordinary abilities. They came across Tanney’s YouTube video and couldn’t resist learning more.

“Our researchers saw Alex’s video on the web and thought he might be worth a closer look,” said Anwar Mamon, the show’s director/producer. “We wondered ‘Can this quarterback from a small college in Illinois really be THAT accurate?’ We explore why some people have above average talents and abilities. Alex was an excellent subject.”

Tanney’s segment was filmed primarily on the Monmouth College campus at April Zorn Memorial Stadium, although other parts of campus may be included as part of the show’s opening scenes. The two-day shoot spun off some of Tanney’s YouTube exploits with an increased difficulty factor. The distance of his “William Tell” shot was doubled, and other shots also added another level of difficulty.

“That was a pretty small target from 30 yards,” chuckled Tanney after filming the “William Tell” shot. “The whole experience (of filming) was a lot of fun. It was interesting to see everything that goes on behind the camera.”

After a full day of filming in the summer heat and humidity at the college, the crew set aside the following morning to conduct a battery of tests on the able-armed quarterback. Tanney’s accuracy was checked and rechecked before returning to the Monmouth campus for the show’s finale.

“They hooked me up to probably 12 or 13 sensors,” explained Tanney. “I made some throws, and then they analyzed the data. It was interesting to look at it from the scientific standpoint.”

Tanney not only provided the subject matter, but during a break in the filming, he also served as an impromptu tutor for the film crew from the U.K. The trick-shot artist worked with the crew, teaching them how to throw a spiral and even the proper form when punting.

The film crew was not only impressed with Tanney’s athletic ability, but also with his work in front of the camera, which drew praise from the show’s host.

“Alex has a very good TV presence,” said Daniel Browning Smith. “He was very natural and spoke with me as if the camera didn’t even exist. Not everyone can do that.”

Tanney might not be the only Fighting Scot to log face time. Cory Bishop, Vinnie Miles and Spencer Brown each lent a hand – literally – in the “Superhumans” filming. The trio was on the receiving end of some of Tanney’s opening tosses, while Bishop and Miles were also involved in the final stunt.

“It was nice to see them get in on the action,” said Tanney of his teammates. “I got a lot of publicity on ESPN and WGN Radio, but Vinnie, Cory and Spencer played big parts in the YouTube video, so I was happy they were able to help with the History Channel. Hopefully, they’ll make the final edit.”

Did Tanney successfully accomplish all his trick shots, making him a superhuman?

You’ll have to wait until the show airs to find out. Officials from the History Channel haven’t issued a firm air date other than to say it will be included in their second season.