No. 44 -- LS Casey Kreiter
Don't underestimate the importance of long snapper
Last year, shortly after posting that long snapper Casey Kreiter was No. 45 on my list, former Iowa punter Eric Guthrie got a hold of me on Twitter and said, too low, way too low.
So, in response to Eric Guthrie, I moved Kreiter, a senior and going into his second season as Iowa's snapper for punts, field goals and PATs, up one spot.
Truthfully, the long snapper is probably more valuable than No. 44, but it's like chewing. You're body just knows how to do it and needs it to keep going.
Inconsistency at this position can't be tolerated. Kreiter has been the picture of consistency.
Key 2012 factor: As a sophomore in '11, Kreiter shared the long snapping duties, holding down everything but the punt job. He moved into the full-time position last season and didn't miss a beat in '12. Can you remember any bobbled or misfired snaps last season? I can't and it's my job to remember those.
Offseason factor: Nothing, really. Kreiter is serious about his craft. He's also a serious student, notching his second academic all-Big Ten award as a science education major. He'll probably follow in his dad's (Kurt, longtime football coach and now AD at DeWitt Central) footsteps and coach football when he graduates.
Competition: There's no competition for Kreiter, who started his career as a walk-on and has since earned a scholarship. Special teams coordinator Chris White is probably thankful that long snapper is one thing he doesn't have to scratch off the list this fall. So, it's not so much "competition" as a "next" for Iowa long snapper. Next looks to be walk-on Tyler Kluver from Marshalltown. He was an Under Armour all-American at the position last fall. Long snappers are getting scholarships, and Kluver had plenty of options, according to the Marshalltown Times-Republican. Kluver chose the Hawkeyes over Iowa State, Minnesota, Wyoming and North Texas. According to Kluver's father Todd, Auburn also had some interest.
Why No. 44?: It might feel ceremonial, but I do want to recognize the importance of this position. Ask any coach. At 6-3, 250, don't be surprised if Kreiter gets a shot at the NFL as a free agent. NFL always have a trusty long snapper, but in case of injury, they like to know two or three.
Outlook: If Iowa's passing offense remains a sideways train wreck, field goals and field position will be giant factors in whether Iowa returns to a bowl game. That starts with Kreiter, and he's built a record of trust.Click here for an interactive look at the complete Top 45 series.