I talked recently with long snapper Bret White about his preparations for Tech’s pro day, which is next Monday. I think I’m going to write about it for the paper, so I don’t want to give away all of it, but I’ll share some of what he talked about.
He’s been working out with strength and conditioning coach Eric Ciano since Jan. 2 to get his body in better shape for the drills he’ll have to do at the pro day. He realizes that no one is going to give him a shot because he runs a blazing 40 or has an off-the-charts vertical, but better an average 40 than a slow 40. He’s been getting help from former Tech punter Durant Brooks, who is now with the Packers. Brooks finished the season on their practice squad and and was signed to their offseason roster.
White said Brooks has helped him with learning the different footwork required for NFL snappers. (The roles are slightly different, he explained, because linemen can run downfield right after the snap in college but have to wait until the ball is kicked in the NFL.)
“It’s kind of making sure you’re getting a stable base to block,” he said. “You’re asked to block a lot more in the pro game.”
Perhaps the most interesting thing to me – and I confess I kind of find long snapping interesting – was that he was trying to get used to snapping the NFL ball. Said White, “It flies a little bit different. It’s kind of like throwing a basketball and then throwing a beach ball.”
It’s tough to assess White’s professional chances, although I will see if I can do that in the next few days. He was a little shaky at times this past season, but had two solid seasons in 2006 and 2007. He’s on the small side. According to this list of NFL snappers (I’m not sure how current it is), he’d be the smallest in the NFL, at 5-11, 240. (The list includes, by the way, former Jacket Andrew Economos, who just finished his third season with the Buccaneers.) But if he can get into a camp, there’s no reason he couldn’t unseat someone and win a job. It’s just the matter of getting a chance.
As for his replacement at Tech, he noted that Brad Sellers was his backup last season and that Jeff Lentz was competing for the backup job in camp last year before he tore his ACL.
“They’re probably the most experienced, I would say,” White said of Sellers and Lentz, “but it’s easy enough to teach. I’ve had a couple guys call me and say, ‘You’ve got to teach me how to snap.’
By the way, I am going to try to line up the next Q&A to continue our series. If you have any suggestions on who you’d like to hear from and any particular questions you’d like asked, let me know. So far, we’ve talked to Roddy Jones, Kyle Jackson and Morgan Burnett. We won’t be able to get to everyone, but we’ll certainly take suggestions under advisement. Obviously, the position groups we haven’t gotten to are quarterbacks, receivers and offensive and defensive lines.