A long snapper snaps the ball on the hike during a special team’s field goal attempt or punt. This football player position doesn’t make many highlight reels but is still an integral part of the special teams unit. Here is the complete breakdown of the role of a long snapper, how many yards they snap, what else they do, and more!
What Does a Long Snapper Do?
A long snapper (deep snapper) is on the special teams unit and snaps the ball on a punt or field goal kick. During a punt, the deep snapper needs to snap the ball roughly 15 yards to the punter, while on a field goal attempt, they snap around 7 seven yards to the holder. The deep snapper needs to be accurate with their toss and block defenders trying to reach the kicker every play.
Why is it Called a Long Snapper?
The term “long snapper” comes from the football players’ duties on the field. They have to snap the ball a long way to a holder or punter, which is where they get their name.
What Does a Good Snap Look Like During a Punt?
According to ESPN, a good snap during a punt is less than 1 second from the hike to kick. Not only does the snap need to be fast since it is traveling 15 yards in one second, but it needs to be accurate with a tight spiral. The precise and tight spinning football getting to the waist of the punter makes it easy for them to catch and then kick the ball down the field.
What Does a Bad Snap Look Like During a Punt?
A bad snap during a punt is either short, wide, or long to the punter. Teams constantly practice this play to get the timing and feel down, but weather conditions can create an additional hurdle on this play. For example, a rainy or snowy game might make the ball slippery. A slippery ball might be difficult to snap, which is when you will see the ball sail over the punter’s head on a play.
What Does a Good Snap Look Like on a Field Goal or Extra Point?
Unlike a punt where the ball needs to travel around 15 yards to a punter, a field goal attempt or extra point is half that distance. A good snap during a field goal or extra point attempt is a quick and accurate release to the holder to catch and then put on the ground for the kicker to kick.
According to Inside the Pylon, the average snap to hold/ kick is between 1.8 to 2 seconds for NFL teams.
Is a Long Snapper a Center?
Many people assume that a long snapper is also the center on the offensive line, but that is not always the case. NFL teams today tend to have a dedicated long snapper on their roster because of how important this role is on special teams. Back in the day, though, teams would use a random player, as an offensive lineman on the bench, to fulfill this position, but that is not the case anymore.
When Did Teams Adopt a Long Snapper Position?
The modernization of the long snap football player position belongs to the Washington Redskins in 1971. The head coach and GM, George Allen, had George Burman fill the long snapping role exclusively. Interestingly enough, Goerge Burman was in retirement when the Washington Redskins asked him to be their dedicated long snapper on the team that season.
Are Long Snappers Valuable in the NFL Draft?
Most casual fans won’t know many long snappers by name in the NFL. That is because the position is invisible, and most people don’t recognize them unless they make a bad snap during a play. Most long snappers get picked up as undrafted free agents by teams, so their name is not televised.
Why are Long Snappers Important?
Long snapping might not seem like an important role to fill for college football / NFL teams, but it is one of those things you don’t realize you need until you do.
For example, the main snapper of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2003, Greg Warren, got injured and was replaced by a linebacker named James Harrison. In his only long snap attempt, James Harrison sailed the put past the endzone, which led to a safety. That safety penalty then gave the New York Giants automatic field possession on the following kickoff, which led to them scoring a touchdown to win the game.
Another example of bad long snapping took place in 2012 with the Oakland Raiders snapper, Jon Condo. Jon was bouncing snaps to the kicker, which made the kicker move on the next punt to catch the ball and kick. The defense could block the punt attempt by moving up closer than the average 15 yards to make the snap easier for Jon.
Are There Any Long Snappers in the National League Football Hall of Fame?
There are no players in the hall of fame who are exclusively for being a long snapper.
Is There an Award in College Football for Long Snapping?
There are a few trophies and awards that players can earn for long snapping in college football. One of the awards is the Patrick Mannelly Award, and the second is the NOLS Alumni Trophy.
Conclusion: What is a Long Snapper in Football?
In summary, a long snapper is a valuable and often underappreciated player on a football team. Casual fans often overlook a player who can snap the ball between 7 and 15 yards consistently and accurately. Even more impressive is when a player can perfectly snap the ball during the final seconds of a Super Bowl game or make that snap during brutal weather conditions.
However, fans generally notice long snappers when there is a problem, like a bad snap. Bad snaps include short snaps, long snaps, wide snaps, and snaps that are wobbly and hard for the punter or holder to catch. As long as the long snapper does their job correctly, most casual fans won’t think much about this football position.