Long snapper

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Diagram of a punt formation, the long snapper or deep snapper is indicated by the blue "DS"
In the punt formation, the long snapper or deep snapper is the center of the interior line (#58 in blue)

In American football and Canadian football, the term long snapper refers to a player who is a specialized center during punts, field goals, and extra point attempts. His job is to snap the ball as quickly and accurately as possible.

During field goals and point after touchdown, the snap is received by the holder typically 7-8 yards away. During punt plays the snap is delivered to the punter from 13-15 yards away. Following the snap, the snapper often executes a blocking assignment, and on a punt he must cover the kick. A good, consistent long snapper is hard to find, and many marginally talented players have found a niche exclusively as long snappers.

A "bad snap" is an off-target snap which causes the delay of a kick or the failure of a play. According to Kohl's kicking, a good long snap should hit the target (namely hands of the punter) in under 0.75 seconds[1]

In college football[edit]

Many college football teams run a spread punt formation which can free the snapper from blocking assignments and allows for concentration on covering the return or downing the ball farther inside the opponent's territory. A traditional or "cup" formation typically gives the snapper a blocking assignment before covering the punt. The snapper in a punt formation can be referred to as a deep snapper or long snapper synonymously and the term short snapper is reserved for the snapper in field goal or PAT formations, but these terms are often used loosely. Scholarships for snappers used to be rare, but are becoming more popular as colleges begin to recognize the importance of special teams.

In the NFL[edit]

Before specialization, the long snapper was often a player who primarily played another position, mostly assumed to be backup centers because they perform snap duties to quarterbacks, and further out in a shotgun formation anyway, but a recent example would be Allen Aldridge, who started at linebacker for the Detroit Lions and also served as the team's long snapper.[2] This allowed the team to dress another non-specialist player. Now, every team in the NFL has a specialized long snapper.

Long snappers are usually amongst the least known players in the NFL, because of their highly specialized and relatively invisible role on the field. They are also in general not drafted and normally are acquired as undrafted free agents, with a few exceptions:

  • Ryan Pontbriand has the distinction of being the highest-drafted long snapper in the history of the NFL Draft. He was drafted in the fifth round (142nd overall) of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns, although he was drafted as an offensive center.[3]
  • Zak DeOssie, long snapper for the New York Giants, was drafted in the fourth round (116th overall) of the 2007 NFL Draft; however at the time he was drafted as a linebacker.
  • Todd Thomas was selected in the fifth round (124th overall) of the 1981 NFL Draft, for his long snapping abilities, by the Kansas City Chiefs.[4] At the time draft records listed him as a tackle, but he served as the long snapper for the Chiefs during the 1981 season.[5]
  • The first pure long snapper to have been picked in the draft was Tyler Schmitt, a sixth round pick (189th overall) in 2008, selected by the Seattle Seahawks.[6]

Despite their anonymity, a team lacking a skilled long snapper can be seriously undermined. A famous example of this was on January 5, 2003 during the 2002 wild card playoff game between the San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants. The Giants during the regular season had suffered missed field goals due to the lack of an experienced long snapper, and signed Trey Junkin out of retirement to be the snapper for the playoff game. Junkin botched a snap on a field goal attempt that could have won the game for the Giants, who had led 38-14 at one point in the game.[7] Brad St. Louis of the Cincinnati Bengals was another long snapper who, besides having already misexecuted two snaps in clutch situations in 2005 (wild card play-off game against the eventual champions Pittsburgh Steelers) and 2006, gained even bigger notoriety in 2009, when he delivered five bad snaps on either field goal or extra point attempts (leading to missed, aborted or blocked kicks) in the first five games of the season, which led to the then ten-year veteran being released from the team.

In 2008, it was Pittsburgh Steelers that had long snapper problems. Having been dealing with multiple injuries throughout the season already. Regular long snapper, Greg Warren was out for the season with torn ACL, James Farrior and James Harrison were the notable emergency backups. Harrison volunteered to replace Warren. On October 26, 2008 during the Steelers - Giants game, Harrison's snap sailed over punter Mitch Berger's head and through the end zone for a safety. This tied the score and gave the Giants good field position on the ensuing kick resulting in the go ahead touchdown late in the game.[8] Warren also sustained a second ACL tear in December 2009, while he returned for 2010 season, his specialist backup long snapper was not found until Luke Ingram was signed as an undrafted rookie in 2013.

External links[edit]

Positions in American football and Canadian football
Offense Defense Special teams
Linemen Guard, Tackle, Center Linemen Tackle, End, Nose tackle Kicking players Placekicker, Punter, Kickoff specialist
Quarterback Linebackers Snapping Long snapper, Holder
Backs Halfback (Tailback), Fullback, H-back Backs Cornerback, Safety, Halfback Returning Punt returner, Kick returner
Receivers Wide receiver, Tight end, Slotback Nickelback, Dimeback Tackling Gunner
Formations (List)Nomenclature


  1. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?annotation_id=annotation_2613855481&feature=iv&src_vid=i-UJYStdFnk&v=TchA0Ipxlws Snapping Competition To Play In Under Armour All-America Game
  2. ^ http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P1-52891717.html
  3. ^ ^ a b "Player Bio – Steve Kidd – Football". Retrieved on 2007-04-30.
  4. ^ 1981 NFL Draft, Round 5
  5. ^ Surprising Chiefs Boot Bucs, 19-10Gainesville Sun, September 14, 1981, accessed August 12, 2011
  6. ^ "Seattle Seahwaks: Tyler Schmitt". Seattle Seahawks. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  7. ^ William C. Rhoden (2003-01-06). "Sports of The Times; Kicking Mishap Concludes Story With 2 Views". New York Times. 
  8. ^ http://www.pennlive.com/nfl/patriotnews/index.ssf?/base/sports/1225073402247400.xml&coll=1 Long snapper's injury really hurts Steelers