I work with hundreds of Long Snappers per year and often get asked the question, what makes a Long Snapper great? The answer is something that I should be able to (don’t worry, I can) spray out to someone pretty darn clearly and with the utmost precision for a couple different reasons.
First, I rank Long Snappers for a living on RubioLongSnapping.com so I probably should know what I am talking about and not just go off something like a ball hitting a target. It would be pretty ignorant of me to completely demolish a Long Snapper’s ranking simply because he missed a target by a quarter of an inch (would you punish a quarter back if he was aiming for the center of a receiver’s chest, but was off a quarter inch….didn’t think so). So much goes into the art of Long Snapping, but very few actually know what it entails.
Second, I get asked by coaches of all levels that exact question (what makes a Long Snapper great? in case you already forgot) simply to challenge me. They are actually testing me and want to hear what I say to decide if I actually know what I am talking about. Can you imagine asking a world class chef why his food is so tasty and he responds with “um, well, it is hot and, um just tastes good.” You would not trust him and definitely would not think he knew what he was talking about.
My answer needs to be precise and broken down so the average Joe can understand. For some reason, not everyone is as into Long Snapping as I am so I try to stay away from getting too technical. I know it is pathetic and sad, but it is what it is. I will work on the people I meet and you do the same. Hopefully, sooner than later, enough of us spraying can enable people to see the light and figure out that the “center just doesn’t do the snapping for punts too.”
Those of you on my e-mail list have already received something similar to this, but I thought I might make it even clearer. Here, in my opinion, is what makes a Long Snapper great……
Please note on this video: Gibas is basically trying to kill the person catching the ball. I love this (sorry Mr. Sue) because I ALWAYS teach my Long Snappers to snap the ball through the punter and not to him. Mr. Sue actually looks like he is trying to defend himself. I love it! Sorry, yet again Mr. Sue.The average high school Long Snapper hovers around the 1.0 second region. Most high school coaches don’t care simply because they just want the “ball to get there” (sound familiar to all of in the high school world?). The average college Long Snapper is mid .6s to high .7s.The pros are usually right around the same as college but they just don’t ever miss. They are like machines.
ACCURACY– This is usually the third thing someone notices about a Long Snapper. How accurate are you when snapping. Meaning does the punter/holder have to move around a lot to catch your snaps. Best possible location is the right hip (for a right footed punter). Even though some punters like the ball at their chest, this is actually not that great of a spot since they (punters) have to turn the ball over and, for some reason, they can have troubles with this process. A great Long Snapper is not going to make their punter/holder move. Good way to test this is to have someone catch your snaps from about 15 yards away while sitting in a lawn chair. How many footballs in a row can you snap without making that person move? Five, ten, fifteen, fifty? Anything less than ten and you need some work in my book.
CONSISTENCY– This one is a bit tricky to understand since everyone always tries to lump it in with accuracy. Little bit different since consistency, in my eyes, means the ball staying the same speed the with each and every snap. Basically, you and the punter/holder/kicker are trying to create a rhythm. Given, the whole process starts with the most important person on the team, the Long Snapper. Your snap needs to be a good, consistent tempo at all times. It is very hard for a punter to get a rhythm with a Long Snapper if one snap is a rocket and the other is a floater. If you snap a .75 that is great, but is it like that every time? Varying your time from .7 to .8 is a massive valley to cross and can screw up the timing of everything. It is similar to seeing fast ball, fast ball, fast ball, change up…it would screw you up. Big issues with this category come when a Long Snapper has to snap and block.
Below is a great video for consistency from Rubio Long Snapper Reid Ferguson (2012, GA, now at LSU). When you watch this masterpiece, note how the speed is almost identical on every single snap. It almost looks like one snap, cut and pasted over and over again.
SIZE– This is either the first or second thing someone notices about a Long Snapper. Even before you snap a ball someone is going to judge you on your looks. Think about it. You ever look at the old time Cadillacs and say, “Man, I bet that thing hauls!” Not even close. You see a massive ride that isn’t going anywhere quick (quite comfy though).How big are you? How strong are you? Are you built well? Do you pass the eyeball test? If you got off a plane to visit a college coach, what would be the first thing he thought when he saw you? Size and look of your body is a big thing with colleges and, therefore, a big thing with me.Given, not everyone is 6’4″ and 250 lbs so you have to do the best with what you got. How would you look in just your underwear? If vomit is making its way to your mouth right now, you might want to hit the elliptical and some weights. If you are undersized you will need to make up in other ways to compensate (grades, perfect form, blocking, speed of ball, attitude, aggressiveness). Perfect example would be someone like Rubio Long Snapper Scott Thompson (2011, CA – headed to NC State). He is not a giant, but uses his solid Long Snapper frame….meaning massive butt and legs which is a good thing for a Long Snapper:)…exceptionally well. Watch this video to see Scott really utilizing his backside almost like a trebuchet…love it!
Ideal Long Snapper frame? Rubio Long Snapper Nick Boyle (2011, NJ – headed to Delaware) is pretty darn close:
|Yours truly and Nick Boyle
Please Note: I am not a small fellow (over 6 ft tall and above two turns on the scale)
and Nick is making me look like a child.
ATHLETICISM– how athletic are you? Can you move down field? Would you be able to divert the punt returner or even tackle him? Are you light on your feet or are you causing the ground to shake…in a bad way? Solid athleticism can really help out a ranking if you are under and over sized. It is not a deal breaker, but man oh man can it help a Long Snapper that is battling against another one in the coach’s eyes.
On that note, I can reflect back on quite a few Long Snappers that are beyond sub-par athletes (think doing a layup, mind you with no one around, and launching it well over the backboard….not even kidding) that are exceptional at Long Snapping.
BLOCKING– how well do you block? “My HS coach does not require me to block” doesn’t fly with me. It shows toughness and coaches will want to know if you can block. You say the school/coach you are getting recruited by does the spread punt….awesome! What happens if/when that coach leaves and the new one wants to see you block since he is doing the pro style? You aren’t going to say “sorry I don’t block” you are going to do exactly what you need to do to get/keep the starting spot.
Blocking is a major selling point for a Long Snapper. You can jump up the rankings very quickly by being able to snap AND block. Like I always say, there are thousands of people that can snap a ball, and there are thousands that can block, but there are very, very few that can actually snap AND block.
Look at this video of Rubio Long Snapper Samuel Rodgers (2011, PA – headed to Syracuse) and how his snap is the exact same (phenomenal) when he is blocking. Such a huge win to be able to do both.
SPIRAL– This one is pretty basic. Either your ball spirals or it doesn’t. You can look at this one two ways. 1) Scientifically: tight spiral cuts through the wind due to less resistance. 2) Caveman: Bad spiral is hard for the punter, who is already fighting an uphill battle since they aren’t a Long Snapper, to catch. How well does your ball spiral? Having a very fast snap and little to no spiral will crush your speed, your ranking and the opinion of you in a coach’s eyes. Just think if someone didn’t know a ton about Long Snapping, wouldn’t a nice, pretty spiral be something that catches their eye? The answer is undoubtedly YES.
Being a Long Snapper is a difficult position. If it was easy, quarterbacks would do it:) Coaches and I need to see how well you handle pressure and awkward situations. When you are playing in front of 100,000 people are you going to tell them all to shoosh? Nope. Didn’t think so.
When you combine all of these factors with a solid work ethic, you will get a Long Snapper that is simply a juggernaut. See, that is the trick. Finding someone that has all the attributes AND is willing to put in the time and effort. When you mix them all together you will obtain something along the lines of this (turn your volume WAY up so you can fully embrace)…..
For those of that don’t know (welcome back from living under that rock you have been calling home for the past 8 years), in the video is long time Rubio Long Snapper Christian Yount. He is someone that got into Long Snapping simply to get a spot on the bus. After hearing his HS coach tell him to “not even bother with Long Snapping since no one goes to college simply for that”, Christian accomplished the following….
- He went out and received a full scholarship to UCLA during his junior year (first to ever do that)
- He was the only member of his HS team to get a full ride (the irony on this simply delicious)
- He started all four years at UCLA
- He was a two time Playboy All-American (the first one to ever be chosen)
- He was selected to the Senior Bowl
- He played in the NFL for the Tampa Bay Bucaneers, Cleveland Browns and the New England Patriots.
To top it all off, and in the Long Snapper way, Christian is a superb human being. Combine it all and you have a Long Snapper that is, well, great.
Told you I could answer the question:)
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