INDEPENDENCE - For Independence, the prep football season opener bore little resemblance to its winless 2016 campaign.
Even in defeat, a clear message was sent that there are brighter days ahead for the Mustangs.
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No. 40 ... Football is a game of chaos. It’s 11 athletes who’ve trained like madmen for nine months vs. 11 athletes who’ve trained for nine months. Everyone is shooting for perfection, but what is a perfect game for a football player? You have rough ideas and certainly there are successful games, but video study will always reveal the slightest blemish. But hey wait, Mr. Long Snapper. You have to be perfect. You have to be perfect around 10 times a game. No plays off for you. I had a Twitter discussion a few years ago with former Iowa punter Eric Guthrie. He opened my eyes to the consistency factor and just how valuable that is for every football team. Between Dan Olszta, Andrew Schulze and Casey Kreiter, Iowa has had a tremendous run here. Off hand, one faulty snap jumps to mind (2010 Wisconsin).
You heard Tyler Kluver’s name a few times this spring. The 6-0, 220-pound redshirt freshman is Iowa’s new long snapper.
Iowa’s only Under Armour All-American? ... The long snapper sweepstakes have gone up in the last couple of years. Just this week, Ohio State picked up a commitment from a long snapper. No, not a walk-on commitment, but a scholarship. Liam McCullough, a Columbus, Ohio, native, announced his decision while attending a special teams camp at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
The long snapper craze had already started when Kluver was coming out of Marshalltown High School. Check out this ESPN.com post for extended details, but Kluver had to nail his final two snaps in the “high pressure snap” competition. He did it and earned a spot in the 2012 Under Armour All-American game. Kluver didn’t earn any offers out of high school, but had interest from Iowa, Minnesota, Wyoming and North Texas.
Read what you want into high school All-American teams. In my opinion, the high school football world is too big to digest. That said, good teams seem to have a lot of them, and Kluver did what he needed to do to earn his spot.
All by his lonesome ... This spring, it was Kluver and Kluver on the depth chart. He was the only long snapper on Iowa’s roster.
“Yeah, and every one of our guys on the roster, basically, is in the competition, outside of maybe Kluver,” Ferentz said this spring when asked about having two punters. “I’m not sure who our backup snapper is right now, but we’ll have somebody in the fall. Right now if he’s not here, if he gets the flu, we may not kick that day.”
The “somebody in the fall” is Zach Johnson, a 6-3, 245-pounder from Hopkins (Minn.) High School. He told HawkeyeReport.com, “It will be me and Tyler Kluver down there competing for the head spot and whoever gets it, gets the full ride.”
Outlook ... Iowa does appreciate and reward its snappers. Kreiter was on scholarship his last couple of seasons. Ferentz said this spring someone will earn a scholarship at the spot. The specialist scholarships are piling up, but consistent perfection comes with a price. The demand is there for long snappers and, now, so are the scholarships.
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