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Monday, July 18, 2011

Notre Dame Long Snappers

Probably the most overlooked and misunderstood position on a football team is the Long Snapper.  Next year (2012), Notre Dame will have two.  Both on athletic scholarship, both recruited and performing a very specialized task with unique talents.  When a Team only has 85 scholarships to awared, two are taken up at a unique, and special position, those guys had better be worth it.
Remember snapping long is not the same as a center hiking the ball to the quarterback when he is in the shotgun formation.
Normally, traditionally, and usually Long Snappers come from the walk-on ranks.  Either preferred or simply walking-on during tryouts (like Rudy) in the Spring or in Notre Dame’s case, the Fall.  Some coaches will recruit Long Snappers to either ‘Gray Shirt’ or ‘Walk-On’ in a preferred status. 
In the case of ‘Gray Shirting’, the Long Snapper can enroll part time (at his own expense) at his chosen university or attend classes at a junior college.  When the coach has a scholarship come available for whatever reason, he will (if he’s honest) offer it to the Long Snapper.
Also, a coach will tell a potential Long Snapper recruit that he will guarantee him a spot on the Team and a scholarship when and if he earns the starting assignment.  This is a ‘Preferred Walk-On’ and the normal path for Long Snappers.  Coaches have to be careful here as well as they can only carry 105 football players on the team.
Thus, it was quite surprising when Charlie Weis in his next-to-last recruiting class offered Jordan Cowart (6’2”, 215 lbs.) a full scholarship to long snap for Notre Dame.  Many assumed that it was a package deal to get Punter Ben Turk since both played for Saint Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale Florida.  

Jordan Cowart Jr.
Well Brian Kelly has done the same thing in his recruiting class of 2012 by offering Scott Daly (6’3” 235 lbs.) from Downers Grove Illinois a scholarship to long snap.  Scott also had a scholarship offer from Northwestern on the table, a rather unique situation for a Long Snapper.  Thus, Daly will be Freshman and Cowart a Senior in 2012, an ideal situation for training and transition.

Scott Daly Recruit 2012
It is interesting to note that long snapper camps exist for potential recruits and that one in particular actually ranks high school long snappers and offers the 12 most qualified to attend a special long snapper camp.  Guess which Long Snapper was ranked #1 coming out of that camp?  Yup, Scott Daly.
A quick look at the physical size of those 12 guys ranging from 6’0” – 190 lbs. to 6’ 3” – 255 lbs. placed Scott at the high end with his athletic 6’3” 235 lbs.
Chris Rubio runs probably the best known kicking and long snapping camp.  Check it out here. 
It was interesting what he had to say in coaching long snappers.  Try to drill a spiral right through the punter, aiming at his right hip.  Chris emphasized, speed snapping in .78 seconds or better), accuracy, consistency, snapper size/bulk, athleticism (ability to run down the field and tackle the punt returner) and blocking ability.
Long Snappers are used for punting and placekicking, there is nothing worse than having a snap go awry in a critical situation.  We see it on occasion and cross our fingers that the snap will be true for Notre Dame.  Guess that’s why it’s worth a scholarship.

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