It’s the most under-appreciated job in football.
No media attention and no one talks about them.
But it might be the most important position on the field.
The long snapper isn’t an easy job. This specialized duty requires the center, in full pads, to bend at the waist and throw a football between his legs, either 7 yards to a kneeling teammate or 15 yards to a punter that’s standing. Oh, and get it there in less than 1 second.
It can take time to master, and everybody on the football field notices when you fail, but Azle’s Zach Edwards picked it up quickly and now he’s being rewarded.
Both rankings are two of the top systems when it comes to the most specialized of football players: kickers, punters and the guy that gets them the ball.
“It means everything,” said Edwards, a two-year starter at long snapper for the Hornets. “To be ranked that high, it’s a relief to know that my work is paying off.”
A first-team all-district selection in 2016, Edwards tried out at the position when he was in the eighth grade – following in an older brother’s footsteps.
He “showed me how to snap in our driveway,” Edwards said. “I kept snapping, got my form down and went to my first camp. It took me awhile to get my form, but once I got it, it just came easy.”
Alex Edwards, Azle’s long snapper from 2014-16, is a redshirt freshman at the position for Northwestern Oklahoma State.
“He’s an inspiration to me,” Zach Edwards said. “It took him awhile to get the whole thing down and I just took that as motivation for me to get better.”
Linebacker and special teams coach Christian Davidson has also played a key role in Edwards’ success. Davidson was a long snapper at Houston Klein Oak, and lettered at UNT from 2007-09.
His father, Greg Davidson played in the NFL for the Houston Oilers in the 1980s.
“With Zach, I don’t have to worry when he goes out there. I don’t have to close my eyes and pray that it’s going to get there,” Davidson said. “I already know he’s going to get the snap off.”
Last season, Edwards did so well that coach Devon Dorris put in a good word during all-district meetings. He was named first team all-district defense as a deep snapper – something that doesn’t happen often.
“Zach is probably the most talented long snapper I’ve ever been around,” Dorris said.
Besides the Northwestern Oklahoma State offer, Alex Edwards was also offered by Tarleton State and Southeastern Oklahoma State.
“No doubt Zach’s an excellent snapper,” Azle coach Christian Davidson said. “Whoever takes him is going to be very happy.”
Zach doesn’t have an official offer, but he went to a camp at Purdue last summer and had unofficial visits to Houston and TCU. He’s visiting Stephen F. Austin this weekend.
“I’m very proud of them. Being a snapper has been a tool to help them get to the next level,” their father Jeff Edwards said. “Zach’s mentality and work ethic is off the charts. He’s humble and a great kid, and he’ll do anything for anyone.”
Zach finished as one of the top athletes during the Rubio Long Snapping Vegas XXIX Event in January. He also attended a Korn Blue camp at Arlington Martin this year and heads back to Las Vegas in November for another Rubio event.
“He puts in the work and deserves the recognition,” Dorris said. “Anything that he can get and bring a good name to Azle football, I’m certainly proud of.”
Long snapping may be a thankless job, but there are college and NFL players that have succeeded while doing it.
TCU’s Lucas Gravelle, Oklahoma’s Wesley Horky, Texas Tech’s Kyle Heffron and Texas A&M’s Austin Frey are a few players on scholarship.
Dallas Cowboys’ L.P. Ladouceur has been the long snapper since 2005. He makes $1.22 million annually - third behind Charley Hughlett (Bengals) and Zak DeOssie (Giants).
“I think it’s more noticed in the pros and more under-appreciated at high school, but making it to the pros is my long-term goal,” Edwards said.
WEEK 8 PREDICTIONS
(winners in bold)
Timber Creek vs. Haltom
Colleyville Heritage vs. Polytechnic
Trimble Tech vs. Southwest
Kennedale vs. Diamond Hill-Jarvis
Trinity vs. LD Bell
Martin vs. Sam Houston
Abilene vs. Weatherford
Keller vs. Central
Bowie vs. Arlington
Mansfield vs. Lamar
Paschal vs. North Crowley
Byron Nelson vs. Lewisville
Marcus vs. Carroll
Hebron vs. Flower Mound
Eaton vs. Aledo
Saginaw vs. Azle
Northwest vs. Boswell
Brewer vs. Chisholm Trail
South Hills vs. Western Hills
Wyatt vs. YMLA
Eastern Hills vs. Birdville
Dunbar vs. Carter-Riverside
Richland vs. Grapevine
Centennial vs. Burleson
Cleburne vs. Seguin
Crowley vs. Joshua
Everman vs. Granbury
Lake Ridge vs. Midlothian
Lancaster vs. Timberview
Waxahachie vs. Legacy
Summit vs. Red Oak
Lake Worth vs. Castleberry
Springtown vs. Mineral Wells
Midlothian Heritage vs. Alvarado
Life Waxahachie vs. Godley
Paradise vs. Brock
Temple Christian vs. Colleyville Covenant
Grace Prep vs. Fellowship Academy
Coram Deo vs. Pantego Christian
Southwest Christian vs. Midland Christian
Trinity Valley vs. Casady
Oakridge vs. Cooper
Country Day vs. St. Mark’s
FW Christian vs. Greenhill
Grapevine Faith vs. Legacy Christian
St. Puis vs. All Saints
Nolan Catholic vs. Prestonwood Christian
Midland Trinity vs. Trinity Christian
North Side vs. Arlington Heights
Glen Rose vs. Benbrook
Last week: 43-6
Season: 251-102 (71.1 winning percentage)