The long snapper role in football is one of the most unheralded. Yet, any mistake by this position player could result in a turnover and a huge change in momentum. Read on.
What is a long snapper in football?
A long snapper is a specialized center used on the special teams unit. The primary duty of this position is to snap the ball longer distances, typically either seven or 15 yards for field goal attempts and punts.
Long snappers are essential because their accuracy determines whether or not the attempting team will have an opportunity to get a good field goal or punting attempt.
The main goal of this role is to not mess up the punt or field goal.
The snapper snaps the ball in a spiral to make the ball travel quicker and to make it easier to handle.
Long snappers are often unsung heroes and are an integral part of the special teams.
What do long snappers do?
Long snappers snap the ball longer distances than normal snappers. Long snappers, also known as deep snappers, are part of the special teams. Bad snaps can put the long snappers team in bad situations that could lead to the other team scoring.
When is a long snapper used?
Long snappers are part of the special teams. They are used by teams punting and attempting a field goal. Long snappers are never used by the punt returning team because they are receiving the punt and never snap the ball as the return team. They are not used on kickoffs by either team because the ball is never snapped.
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Long snapping on punts
Long snappers typically snap the ball around 15 yards back to the punter. The snapper aims for the hip of the foot the punter will kick with. If the snapper misses his target, then the entire play can end badly for the punting team. The long snapper is the player responsible for starting the play and giving his team the opportunity to get a good punt off. Good snaps reach the punter between .65 and .75 seconds.
Long snapping on field-goal attempts
The snap for field goals is usually seven or eight yards. The snapper aims for the holder, who needs to quickly hold the ball for the placekicker to kick before the defense has a chance to block it. If the long snapper misses the target, that essentially ends the field goal attempt and the offense would then attempt to gain enough yardage for a first down or a touchdown.
Can they block?
Just like centers in normal plays from scrimmage, long snappers are allowed to block. Once they snap the ball they turn into offensive linemen and can block. Since the long snapper is the last player that gets into a good blocking stance, they are often the weakest point in the offensive line.
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Notable long snappers
Former Baltimore Raven long snapper Morgan Cox seems to be the unanimous best long snapper in the NFL. Cox has been selected to the Pro Bowl four times, including in 2019 and 2020. Trey Junkin is known as one of the forefathers of long snapping. Junkin played 281 games throughout his 19-year career, more than any other long snapper in NFL history. Another notable who played this position was Jake Olson, who played at USC despite being blind.
USC long snapper Jake Olson video
So, next time you watch a game, pay special attention to this vital role on punts and field goals.
You’re on our Long Snapper in Football page.
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