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Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Former U-M LS says scholly was smart

By Chantel Jennings

Scott Sypniewski
Scott Sypniewski, a long snapper, received a scholarship offer from Michigan.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan coach Brady Hoke surprised quite a few people last summer when he extended a scholarship offer to long snapper Scott Sypniewski (Ottawa, Ill./Marquette). The general consensus among fans was puzzlement as they wondered why the scholarship wouldn’t go to a more “valuable” skill player, where the Wolverines were struggling to get commits.

However, according to Jeremy Miller, former Michigan long snapper and one of Sypniewski’s coaches, the decision was the correct one.

WN: What stands out about Scott to give him a scholarship?

JM: The kid is ready. Physically, he’s strong enough from a snapping perspective. He’s ready to go. It doesn’t really require much grooming. The only thing he’s going to have to really worry about is the mental aspect of the game because he has the physical tools.

WN: How surprised were you to hear that Michigan was giving a rising senior long snapper a scholarship?

JM: It was kind of a shock because it has always kind of been that you hope to get a preferred walk-on spot and hearing that Michigan offered him a scholarship just goes to show how serious they were that they wanted Scott. I’ve been working with Kornblue Kicking for six years and we hadn’t seen a kid come through our camps who was as polished or as good as Scott. I think the coaches saw something in him, they knew the family, so why delay the inevitable and risk not getting him? I think they felt burned a bit losing Taybor Pepper [to Michigan State, which offered him a scholarship] the year before because he was asked to walk on at Michigan. They probably just didn’t want to risk it again.

WN: Do you see it as a growing trend in college football?

JM: Absolutely. You look at the position as a whole and you really used to see backup linemen or backup tight ends learning long snapping on the side. But now it really has become a specialization. Some games are decided by what you do on the punt and you see a lot of schools across the country recruiting this position now. Coach [Lloyd] Carr used to always stress to us that the punt was the most important play in football. If you have a bad snap or a bad punt, that play in itself changes momentum. No play changes field position like the punt team.

WN: What do fans not realize about how valuable a talented long snapper is?

JM: Without a perfect snap you can’t get a punt off, you can’t get an opportunity to score an extra point or a field goal. In college, field position is so important. We used to strive to get 38 net yards per punt. So that’s essentially four first downs that the offense has to get now. If you look at the recruiting Hoke has done with strong interior play and really recruiting well defensively, if we get 40-50 yards on a punt and we’re telling that offense to go 70-80 yards on average against that defense, they’re not going to score often.

WN: What will be the biggest hurdle Scott faces as a true freshman?

JM: Adjusting to the college game. Athletes are better, bigger and stronger. It’s not being star-struck, not looking around the stadium saying, “Wow, I’m playing Michigan football.” Keep tunnel vision, control what he can control and compete.